For ye have the poor with you always, and whensoever ye will ye may do them good; but me ye have not always. Mark 14:7
Here in one of the most unforgettable, characteristic words that Jesus ever uttered, our Lord actually contrasts the service of the poor with the service of Him. “Ye have the poor with you always,’ he said, ‘and whensoever ye will ye may do them good; but me ye have not always.’ We have not Jesus always with us in the sense in which the woman had Him with her at Bethany; we cannot pour any precious ointment upon His head. But in a higher better sense we have Him with us still. And surely we must not neglect the privilege of communion with Him.
Certainly I am not advocating neglect of external service. Without that it is quite impossible that we should be true disciples of Jesus. It is a poor and untrue religion which leaves the hungry in distress. But we shall perform such services all the better if we take time also to commune with Jesus Himself. Do you think that the Christian life is concerned only with philanthropy; do you think that activity in social service is all that our Lord Desires? Oh no, my friends. Those things are absolutely necessary to the Christian, but they are not all that is necessary. If we are true Christians, we shall not neglect those things; but we shall also take time to go into our closet and close the door; and there, with the world shut out, with even our service forgotten for the moment, we shall think no longer of what we do but of what our Savior has done, and we shall pour out upon Him, with an abandon like that of the woman at Bethany, our gratitude and love and praise.
…In these words to the woman at Bethany our Lord sets us free from the oppressive tyranny of the efficiency expert…
J. Gresham Machen – The Claims of Love