The sinful woman [who anointed Jesus’ feet] sought the company of the righteous; but these seek the company of the unrighteous. They visit each other to talk all manner of foolishness; to injure their neighbour’s reputation; to defame and backbite; to speak disgracefully of one another, speak of costly furniture, houses, goods and handsome companions, men and fine clothing. In short, their works openly show that they have not the faith of the sinful woman, and belong not to the congregation of the righteous.
The sinful woman sat at the feet of Jesus and heard his holy word; but these hear teachers, who can tickle their ears, and preach to please them. In short, why need I say much? it is, O God! so corrupted, that we find the whole world filled with foolish men and women, I mean spiritually, deaf ears, unenlightened hearts; the blind are leading the blind, and they will all fall into the pit of eternal death, unless they are again enlightened, if we believe it to be true what the mouth of the Lord has taught us; for their doctrine, sacraments, and worship are altogether false ; their unbelief, and carnality prevail every where. Behold, reader, here take notice, how vastly this sinful woman differs after conversion in her faith and conduct, from the faith and conduct of the world. They are like the sinful woman before her conversion, but not after conversion. Whether such are believers, I will let the sensible reader to reflect upon with the Spirit and word of the Lord.
I know of a certainty, that a proud, haughty, avaricious, selfish, unchaste, lecherous, wrangling, envious, disobedient, idolatrous, false, lying, unfaithful, thievish, defaming, backbiting, blood-thirsty, unmerciful and revengeful man, whosoever he may be, is no Christian, even if he was baptized one hundred times, and attended the Lord’s Supper daily; for it is not the sacraments, or the signs, such as baptism and the Lord’s Supper, but a sincere, Christian faith, with its unblamable, pious fruits, represented by the sacraments, that makes a true Christian and has the promise of life.
But our rich people seek more and more, how they may increase their money and possessions, build their houses splendidly, and add farm to farm. They do not defend the cause of the poor and needy; are unmerciful, proud, avaricious and wanton; do not remember what is written concerning them, “Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you ; your riches are corrupted, and your garments are moth-eaten; your gold and silver is cankered, and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire,” James 5:1-3. Neither do you reflect on what David says, “I have seen the wicked in great power, and spreading himself like the green bay-tree; yet he passed away, and lo, he was not: Yea, I sought him, but he could not be found,” Ps. 37:35, 36. Ah! what a hard saying which the Lord uttered, “Woe unto you that are rich, for ye have received your consolation,” Luke 6:24, and “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God,” Matt. 19:24.
[Excerpts from the Complete Works of Menno Simons. Menno Simons (1496-1561) was a Dutch Roman Catholic priest who united with the persecuted Anabaptists after his conversion. He was an effective preacher, writer and church leader of the persecuted church. ]