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Bringing Calm to Your Heart

She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for burial.
Mark 14.8

As I was preparing for my sermon, “A Calm Heart” on Psalm 131, my interest in a short but important statement from Jesus was piqued. At a dinner at Simon’s house, an unnamed woman came into the dinner and broke open a very costly jar of ointment and poured it on Jesus’ head. Some at the dinner were offended by the extravagant gift the woman gave to Jesus. They insisted that this ointment would have been better used to sell and then give to people in need. But this woman was doing something of great honor. She was anointing Jesus for burial, before he died.  

Jesus defended her saying, “She has done what she could...” That little phrase can help give our hearts calm, when we are stressed.

How so? That little statement tells us that Jesus doesn’t expect us to do everything. He doesn’t expect us to do things beyond our ability to do them. He expects us to do what we can do.

Often times, we can experience stress because of one or more of the following three factors. We are trying to do more than we can do. We are expecting others to do more than they can do. We are trying to do more than we can do, because of the expectations of others. Jesus reminds us in the short statement, “She has done what she could...,” that we are responsible to do what we can do.

This is where Paul Tripp’s circle of responsibility is so helpful. He reminds us that we are responsible to be faithful in certain aspects of life, while also trusting God with the concerns that we have.

If we expand the circle of responsibility to cover areas of life in which we should only have concern, we will experience stress and worry. If we shrink the circle of concern and place our responsibilities into simple concerns, we will experience stress in life.

One way to calm our hearts amid stress is to come back to the circle of responsibility. Are we seeking by God’s grace to be faithful in our responsibilities? Have we made any of our responsibilities to be concerns? Have we made any concerns to be responsibilities?

Remember, Jesus honors the woman because she did what she could do. Don’t expect more of yourself than what Jesus would expect.

Tim Porter

Lead Pastor for the Mission


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