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Pious-sounding Critics

Rev. Charles Oppong-Poku | June 16, 2024 | John 12:4-6


'Why wasn't this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year's wages.” John 12:5 (NIV)



Some church members are quick to criticize but slow to praise, encourage, serve, or sacrifice. Satan often uses greedy and selfish individuals to mask their criticisms with pious-sounding words. In John 12:4-6, we see a sharp contrast to the loving act of Mary. Judas Iscariot, one of Jesus' disciples, raises a seemingly pious objection to Mary's use of expensive perfume.


This passage gives us insight into the nature of pious-sounding critics and their true motivations. Judas criticizes Mary for what he perceives as a wasteful act and argues that the perfume, worth a year's wages, should have been sold and the money given to the poor. On the surface, his concern appears righteous and considerate of the needs of the poor. However, John reveals Judas' true intentions that he was a thief, and as the keeper of the money bag, he used to steal from it. His criticism was a facade to cover his selfishness and greed.


This does not mean we should give up on the church because we will continue to have such persons among God's people. Jesus did not give up on his disciples because one of them was a greedy traitor. The real issue is that we don’t have to give in to pious-sounding critics but gently confront them with the truth as Jesus did with Judas in the next verses. Today’s passage teaches us to be discerning about criticism that appears pious on the surface. True motives can be hidden behind a veneer of righteousness. It also challenges us to examine our hearts to ensure our actions and criticisms are genuinely aligned with godly principles and not driven by selfish desires.


We need to develop the discernment to recognize when criticism is genuinely constructive and when it is driven by ulterior motives. Reflect on your motives when you offer criticism or advice, demonstrate genuine concern for others in your actions, and ensure that your acts of charity and kindness are driven by true compassion and not self-interest.


Heavenly Father, grant me the wisdom to discern the true motives behind pious-sounding criticism. Help me to examine my own heart and ensure that my actions and words are driven by genuine love and compassion. Keep me from hypocrisy and selfishness, and teach me to act with integrity and authenticity in all I do. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.




DAILY word study: PERFUME μύρον (myron) is the Greek equivalent of the noun that refers to ointment, perfume, or fragrant oil. It often denotes a costly, aromatic substance used in anointing. Judas' reaction, while seemingly practical, exposes his lack of genuine concern for the poor and his true motive of greed. This contrast between Mary's selfless act and Judas' selfish perspective accentuates the different responses people can have to Jesus' worth and mission. Theologically, the use of perfume by Mary serves as a prelude to Jesus' sacrificial death, where He would give His life for humanity. Judas' response provides a sobering reminder of how easily one can misinterpret acts of devotion when motivated by selfish desires.


Reflect on what "perfume" you can offer in your own life as a symbol of your devotion and love for Christ. Are there areas where you can give more generously and selflessly to honour Him?

𝔹𝔸ℙ𝕋𝕀𝕊𝕋 Daily Devotional | AUDIO VERSION | JUNE 16, 2024

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