A word that has been swirling in my mind lately.
Because I am constantly staring selfishness in the face.
It is so easy sometimes to serve others, but internally, I think I put limits on how often I serve.
“Well, I let him sleep in yesterday….so isn’t it my turn today?”
“I have played with them all morning, I just want a break.”
“I’m almost 30 weeks pregnant and exhausted. I’m going to focus on me today.”
Eek. When I process those things out loud, I recognize how ugly and how foolish that is.
Isn’t it so true that we love being the beneficiaries of servanthood, but have such a hard time willingly serving others without limits?
John 13:1-7 is a passage I have been dwelling on as I move towards serving others better.
Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist.Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him.
Process that for a moment. Jesus, the God of the universe, put skin on. He stepped out of Heaven to love us, to walk with us, and to lead us back to HIm. This passage tells us that He knew the Father had given Him all things and that He was going to return to Heaven. He IS a King. He IS royalty. He IS GOD. Knowing all of this, He rose. He rose from supper to serve. He washed His disciples feet.
He, holding the most important position on earth, chose not to lord his position over others and demand service from them, knowing He was about to be crucified.
Jesus, who knew the weaknesses of his disciples, chose not to stand up and rebuke them or tell them ways they have failed Him in His time of doing ministry with them, but instead, chose to wash their feet. The dirtiest part of their body. He took the position of servant.
Mind. Blowing. Humbling. So, so beautiful.
And here is what He says to us,
When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.
Not only did Jesus wash their feet, He called them to do the same. If the Lord can humble himself, kneel down, and serve others, I think I can, too.
This point is reiterated in an earlier teaching in Matthew 20.
25 But Jesus called them to him and said,“You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. 26 It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant. 27 and whoever would be first among you must be your slave,28 even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
At first, His statement can be a little shocking. The word servant or slave can be seen with negative connotations. Jesus did not mean for this to be viewed in a negative way. Instead, He is simply calling us to follow His example. And isn’t His example what so many people crave?
To be served generously when we feel unlovable or unworthy?
To be put first even when we deserve to be put last?
To be blessed by someone when we have been ugly towards them?
I can think of numerous times when people have served me when I did not deserve it nor ask for it, and it is beautiful beyond words.
I want to be that for other people. For my family. For my friends. A woman who is defined by servanthood.
And not because I expect them to serve me in return. But simply because the God of the universe did this for me and He asked that I follow His example.
And the surprise blessing is that when we DO serve others, our hearts are filled with joy in ways that we did not expect.
To add depth to servanthood, I have also been dwelling on Philippians 2:14 where Paul tells us to “do everything without grumbling or arguing.” Because let’s face it- when I serve while grumbling in my head, it is not really servanthood. It is mustered up action to make myself feel good or because I feel like I am supposed to. I know I cannot serve in my own strength. It must come from dwelling on what Jesus has done for me.
The question I have been asking myself is, “Whose feet can I wash today (metaphorically?)”
What about you? Whose feet can you wash?