Tag Archives: servanthood

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 Habit Of Service

I believe that there are several habits we as Christians can adopt in our lives to become the type of believer we truly aspire to be. While Hebrews 11 has compiled a list of heroes of the faith for us, there have been many people who have lived since that time whom we can learn from as well. If I were to ask you to think of a person, past or present, who exemplified a life of faith as a believer, you could probably think of a name quickly. Whether they were written about in the Bible, history, or have just touched your life in some way, they have habits in their life that you and I can adopt into our own lives to become that type of Christian.

  
A habit that I’ve noticed in some of the most effective Christians is the habit of service. Most people who have this habit are not noticeable until they are gone. They give of their time and energy, but prefer to stay behind the scenes. They are rarely recognized because they don’t require public praise. They do what they do because it’s what God has called them to. They recognize that for big things to happen, there’s a lot of little things that need to be done behind the scenes.

Jesus told us that the ones who do these little things with an humble spirit are the greatest in His kingdom. In Matthew 23:11-12 Jesus said, “Do you want to stand out? Then step down. Be a servant. If you puff yourself up, you’ll get the wind knocked out of you. But if you’re content to simply be yourself, your life will count for plenty” (MSG). Jesus modeled what it was like to be a servant to others. He spent His life giving instead of taking. He did things to recognize God, not to be recognized. When you live a life of service in a selfish world, you stand out.

Look at the life of Mother Theresa. She spent it serving people who had no ability to pay her back or offer her any recognition. She once said, “In this life we cannot do great things. We can only do small things with great love.” I believe that’s the key to the habit of service. Understanding it’s not about doing big things. It’s about the little things that few see. It’s about doing something for someone without posting it on social media. It’s done out of a heart of love for someone in need.

I believe if all Christians would take the time to develop this one habit, we could change the world. If we did things for His recognition instead of our own, we’d have a lot more converts. A life of service yields great results in the kingdom. It’s marked by looking out for the needs of others more than our own. Take time today to look for someone you can serve in some small capacity. Make a difference in their life today and you’ll understand why it’s more blessed to give than to receive.

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Live Expansively

I had a conversation with a coworker recently about doing good for others. I told her that I believe each person has a void that needs to be filled. I can choose to put something positive in it or let them go about their lives and run the risk of someone putting something negative in it. I told her that I do my best to put positive things into other people’s lives whenever I have the chance. She replied, “My mind doesn’t think like that. I don’t think I really have anything to give so I don’t look for those opportunities.”

I assured her that she has a lot to give and that she needs to be more generous with the abilities she has. I’m afraid that so many Christians think along the same lines she does. They believe that because they’re not in front of a lot of people, they can’t make a difference. They think that they don’t have anything to give or offer others. They let the lie of “I’m a nobody” keep them from doing good for others. That’s just not true. If you are a Christian, you have everything and need to give it away freely.

The believers in the Corinthian church were falling for the same lie. It frustrated Paul because he knew better. In II Corinthians 6:11-13, he told them, “Your lives aren’t small, but you’re living them in a small way… Open up your lives. Live openly and expansively! (MSG)” The only limits your life has when it comes to affecting others are the limits you self impose. Your life is bigger than you think. It’s far grander than you can imagine. It just seems small because you’re living it in a small way.

The way to open up and live a bigger life is through giving what you have. It can be the smallest of gestures that create the biggest impact. On one of my trips to Haiti, I was humbled as I watched one of our teenagers give a cup of cold water to a paralyzed orphan. All of the other kids and teens were out in the fields playing. She recognized that this child couldn’t go out there and also that they were thirsty. She left the “fun” in order to spend time with one who couldn’t be like all the other kids. That’s living expansively. She got a glimpse into the idea that she had something to offer even if it was a cup of water or a conversation.

Jesus gave us the example of true servanthood. He taught us how to invest in the lives of others through listening, sharing and giving. He knew that living an open and expansive life starts with giving of yourself. When we recognize as verse 10 says, “We own nothing, and yet we have everything,” then we will stop seeing our lives as small. We will start to see them as large, God created lives and begin to serve others in a way that points them to the cross. Your life has meaning. Your life is not small, so quit living life as if it were.

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