FOCUS QUESTION: What does serving others really look like?
First-timer? Check out the first post of this series, What It Means to Love Each Other Deeply!
Dale Carnegie once said, “The world is so full of people who are grabbing and self-seeking. So the rare individual who unselfishly tries to serve others has an enormous advantage. He has little competition.”
Because we live in a self-centered world, to serve anyone but ourselves is rare and entirely different from the status quo. Therefore, as Christians, we can love each other deeply by serving others.
But what does serving others really look like? Let’s take a look at Matthew 13:1-17 when Jesus washes his disciples’ feet.
It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had comefor him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.
The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.
He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”
Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”
“No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.”
Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”
“Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!”
Jesus answered, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.” For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean.
When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.”
There are three important aspects of this story I want to draw attention to.
1. Jesus took on the task of the lowliest servant.
Back in the day, everyone wore sandals so it was a normal practice for travelers to have their feet washed before entering a place. For obvious reasons, this was the task of the lowliest servant…someone who (according to society’s standard) was deemed of little importance.
By washing the feet of his disciples, Jesus expresses a sense of humility unlike any other. He submits himself to his disciples to serve a purpose much greater than himself.
That was his only agenda…and it was a JAW-DROPPING MOMENT. It was COMPLETELY UNHEARD OF. Can you imagine the disciples’ faces when they realized what Jesus was doing?
2. Jesus got up to wash the disciples’ feet.
“Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.”
He knew he had come from God and was returning to God, so he got up and went to work.
Those four words give me chills because it paints such a beautiful picture of the servant’s heart Jesus had.
There was no questioning or hesitation. Jesus didn’t ask the disciples to gather the necessary items and he didn’t wait for them to pour water into the basin.
Jesus wanted to please God and build his disciples up in love, SO HE GOT UP. It was that simple.
3. Jesus washed everyone’s feet.
Jesus washed the feet of both Judas and Peter…even though he knew they would both betray him.
Let that resonate.
Judas would soon hand Jesus over to be killed. Peter would soon deny he ever knew Jesus…three times. Jesus knows all of this…yet he washes their feet anyway. This is the most selfless act of true love.
Jesus was not selective of his love. He didn’t deem one disciple as more deserving of his love than another. He didn’t hold back and only wash their left foot or their big toe.
Jesus showed them the EXACT SAME LOVE he showed the other disciples and washed both their feet.
Serving others is about humbling ourselves before others and putting their needs ahead of our own for the sake of the Gospel, no strings attached. It’s about knowing what God is calling us to do and then doing it without question. It’s about looking past our pride and choosing to be non-selective with our love.
Do something for another individual without expecting anything in return. Have an eagerness to make another person feel important, no strings attached. Find ways to meet the needs of those around you in whatever way you can.
Pick up trash in the cafeteria after lunch.
Be someone’s cheerleader and encourage them in their efforts.
Hold the door open for strangers, whether it’s for two people or twenty.
Help someone who is struggling.
Put the clothes/items you see on the ground back on the rack/shelves…even if you weren’t the one who dropped them!
Take time out of your day to visit those who are sick or lonely.
Be someone’s listening ear or shoulder to cry on.
Offer someone a sincere compliment.
Sit with those who are at a table by themselves.
We live in a world that shouts, “ME FIRST! ME FIRST!” Let’s love each other deeply by serving others and displaying everyday actions that humbly say, “No…YOU first.”
Remember, we are not above our neighbors…and a person’s greatest need is to feel loved, noticed, and appreciated.
The way we serve others WITHOUT AN AGENDA should be jaw-dropping. It should be so wrapped in humility and love, others can’t help but take notice.
A lifetime spent serving others is a lifetime well spent…so let’s get up and serve others for the sake of the Gospel because our service is a ministry to others!
Philippians 2:3-4 tells us, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.”
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