When I was younger, every once in a while, our church would do a foot washing service. I typically reacted like Peter: You ain’t washing my feet! Number one, I don’t like taking off my socks and shoes in public. Number two, it’s uncomfortable to sit in a chair, in front of everyone, while a leader in the church washes your feet. Even though I understand it a little bit better now than then, it’s still one of those things that makes you want to protest having it done for you.
In John 13, the disciples and Jesus were at the Last Supper. After dinner, Jesus took off His robe and put on an apron. He poured water in a basin and began to wash their feet. When He got to Peter and he protested, Jesus replied, “If I don’t wash you, you can’t be part of what I’m doing” (MSG). Jesus wasn’t just talking about not being a part of the foot washing, He was talking about not being a part of building His Church.
Peter’s reply to Jesus was to not just wash his feet, but to wash his whole body then. I’m sure Jesus and the others chuckled at that. But Jesus’ next words were the crux of what He was trying to do. He said, “My concern, you understand, is holiness, not hygiene.” It’s not about having your feet washed. It’s about being humble enough to serve someone you lead or to allow yourself to be served by someone you respect. Either way, it’s humbling.
Jesus is teaching us that none of us will ever become so great that we will be above doing the most humbling of tasks. Nor are any of us so insignificant that we are below having those we respect serve us in a manner that honors us. On both ends of the spectrum, our pride clashes with humility. Either we have too much pride to humble ourself completely to serve someone else or we have too much pride to let someone we respect humble themselves at our expense. Jesus said if we fall into either of those traps, we will have no part in what He’s trying to do.
I Peter 5:5 says, “Clothe (apron) yourselves, all of you, with humility [as the garb of a servant, so that its covering cannot possibly be stripped from you, with freedom from pride and arrogance] toward one another” (AMP). We are to put on the apron of humility like Jesus did, free ourselves of pride, and serve one another if we are to be a part of building His Church. It’s in the ground of humble servanthood that holiness grows. Pride is a weed in that garden that will choke it out. Get rid of your pride and learn to serve others in humility of you truly want to be like Christ.