Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | January 20, 2011

Unused Perfume

Since I started blogging in September 2008, I have posted 442 blog entries, including this one. Almost daily, I look at the statistical info on my blog to get a sense of what guests are reading and to see who referred them to my site. I also look at the stats of the most-read blog entries every week — thus, the subject for today’s post. In July 2009 I posted an entry on William Borden, the heir to the famous Borden dairy estate. Borden renounced career paths that would have ensured him a comfortable life and chose instead to serve as a missionary to a Muslim people group in China. While en route to China he contracted spinal meningitis and died at the age of twenty-five. Today, ninety-eight years after his death, William Borden is one of the names most often searched for on the internet. And, every week, my blog entry on Borden is one of most-read posts on my site.

Borden’s decision to become a missionary ran contrary to what his family and friends expected him to do with his life. One friend expressed amazement at the decision and commented that Borden was throwing his life away by becoming a missionary. The world has never understood the value of a life wasted for God and for His purposes. Missionary Jim Elliot and four of his friends were martyred in Ecuador in 1956. Many considered their deaths to be a tragic waste. Elliot would disagree. He once wrote, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” Early in 1999, Graham Staines, an independent Baptist missionary from Australia, and his two young sons were murdered by Hindu extremists in Orissa, India. What the world considers a waste is seen as otherwise in heaven. The Psalmist (116:15) declared, “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.”

The world has always failed to grasp the significance of waste — of giving all to Jesus. The Gospel of Mark records the story of a woman who had an expensive jar of perfume. When Jesus was dining at the home of a man named Simon the Leper in Bethany, the woman approached Jesus and did the unexpected — “She broke the jar and poured the perfume on His head” (Mark 14:3). Her shocking act of devotion provoked criticism from some in the room who asked, “Why has this fragrant oil been wasted?” (Mark 14:4). The woman’s critics argued that the perfume might have been sold and the proceeds given to the poor. Jesus, however, put everything into proper perspective. “Leave her alone,” Jesus said. “Why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me” (Mark 14:6).

People like William Borden and Jim Elliot and Graham Staines understood what it meant to do something beautiful and noble for Jesus. The sweet fragrance of their lives is as strong today as it was on the day they broke their jars of perfume and did something beautiful for Jesus. Their lives challenge us to come to terms with the unused perfume that we selfishly cling to and refuse to pour out. There is nothing beautiful about unused perfume. When you think about it, the only perfume that is truly wasted is that which remains in the jar. Every day we have opportunities to do something beautiful and noble for Jesus. Be willing to break your jar of perfume and release the sweet fragrance of waste for the One who has given us everything.


  1. Thanks for an excellent post!
    Jim Elliot once said: “Forgive me for being so ordinary while claiming to know such an extraordinary God.”
    ~ Robert Lloyd Russell, editor of Jim Elliot: A Christian Martyr Speaks to You

    • Thanks, Robert. I enjoy reading about Jim Elliot and will check out your book on Amazon. Thanks for your ministry of writing.

  2. Just found your websight by looking up ps 46:10. Printed out the Cease Striving & will be sharing it. Such a blessing to me today. Then read more on your sight. Really enjoyed biography of Borden & also your quote, “there is nothing beautiful about unused perfume.” Lots to think about. Thank you for sharing the “perfume” the Lord has given you to share! Blessings, Cindy

    • Thanks for your kind words, Cindy. Happy to know that these posts encouraged you.

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