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Holiness Over Hygiene 

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. 

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The Apron Of Humility

  
Several years ago, our area was hit by Hurricane Ike. Our electricity was out for over two weeks. Because of the work I do, I had to go to work anyway to help customers. A couple of days after the storm hit, the CEO of this Fortune 15 company flew down here. Each day, he put aside his tie, put on our uniform, and got behind a computer to help customers at one of our stores. When regular customers didn’t recognize him, they’d ask who he was. When he told them, no one believed him. He had to pull out his business card to prove it. Even then, there were skeptics.

To me, that’s a lot like what Jesus did. When the world was dark and powerless, Jesus left Heaven to come to earth to help us. He put aside His Heavenly body to take on the form of a man. He walked among us to help us. Many did not recognize Him nor believe He was who He said He was. When He proved it by doing things only God could do, they were still skeptical. Even though there were doubters, He continued to do the work that He was sent to do

Philippians 2:5-8 tells us exactly that, “You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross” (NLT). What it says first is very important. We should have that same attitude.

We should never be above doing any work in the Kingdom. There is no position high enough or level of spiritualness that you can attain where you don’t have to get down in the trenches and serve like everyone else. Jesus was still exhibiting the qualities of a servant the night He was betrayed to do what He came to do. He made it clear He was the Messiah, the Son of God, and yet He served others. John 13:4 says, “So He got up from the supper table, set aside His robe, and put on an apron” (MSG). He took off the robe that signified His greatness and position, to put on what the lowest ranking person wears in order to serve.

Christianity is not about becoming a great and powerful leader. It’s about becoming an humble servant. It’s following the example of the One who gave up all authority in Heaven and earth to wash the feet of others. It’s about meeting people where they are so they can see what God’s love is like. If the CEO of Heaven took off His robe to put on an apron and serve, we should put aside our pride and follow His example of serving others. Wearing the apron was an outward example of the position of His heart. If you feel you’re above putting on the apron of humility, pray that God would give you the same attitude Christ Jesus had.

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