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The Humble Servant

Anyone who has attended church for any length of time has heard a sermon on foot washing. Sermons of this kind usually illustrate the need for humility and reveals that each person has a degree of pride in them that need to be addressed. Today, Christians are willing to lead, but do not want to do the dirty work required of his or her ministry. Like foot washing no one wants to wash the feet belonging to other people, yet every ministry has a job that no one wants to do. 

Ministry leaders are concerned over why other people are not ministering to the community they live in. Itís not that the workers are few or God has called them to a separate ministry of their own.  Have we as Christians have forgotten our promise to serve Christ the rest of our lives or that we have been bought at a price with the blood of Christ? Jesus Christ lowered himself to that of a servant to serve the needs of God for mankind. In his service to God, Jesus Christ served God by giving his life to reconcile every man to God.

  The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." Matthew 20:28

The Bible speaks of a day when the arrogant will be humbled. This of course speaks of beingn verwhelmed and forced to submit to the authority of God. The Christian, on the other hand, chooses to submit to the absolute authority of God voluntarily.  Jesus committed his life to God and submitted his body to the cross of Calvary. He considered Godís will to be his food until he finished the work the father sent him to do.

  I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. John 5:19

When it comes down to the nitty-gritty of serving God Jesus did exactly what he saw his father doing. Jesus worked with God in everything he did.  However, he would have walked by the blind man on the Jericho road if he had not heard him calling. He would have walked by the boat, but Peter asked to walk on water to him. Jesus was focused on doing the will of God and stopped what he was doing to do the will of God.

I will celebrate before the Lord. I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes. 2 Samuel 6:21-22

Lets compare the statements of both Jesus Christ and king Davidís. Both statements show a choice to make a deliberate effort to serve and worship God. How can we say that we love God with all our being if we do not obey him?  

The last sermon I heard on washing feet was on how bad feet can stink. It was the custom of the Eastern people to cover the feet and shoes were most likely made of cloth, grass, wood and leather.   What we know is that Moses had to remove his shoes because he was standing on holy ground and John the Baptist did not consider him self worthy of unlacing Christís shoes. Whether or not the feet of men and women stunk from wearing shoes is left to the imagination. The reason why Peter argued the point with Jesus is also left to the imagination.

Podiatrists become comfortable with handling the feet of other people because of their dealings with the medical needs of foot. Other than tickling the foot of friends while playing with them our feet is not touched by other people. Was Peter embarrassed when Jesus reached for his foot or did he feel unworthy of Christ washing his feet? Or was peter not comfortable with the idea. Regardless of what occurred in the upper room there are some situations in the Christian life you just plain want to avoid. Washing stinking feet is similar to the things you donít want to do for the Lord.  Washing feet has more to do with lowering your personal ego so you can deal with the person who is their destructive life and existing without God so you may lead them to Jesus Christ.

Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible.  To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law.  To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God's law but am under Christ's law), so as to win those not having the law.  To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some.  I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings. 1 Corinthians 9:19-23

We also must consider that the roads of Abrahamís day were unpaved dirt roads. During the dry seasons the constant foot travel would work the pathway into a fine dust. After a rain the dust would turn into mud that would splatter the feet and ankles of the traveler. Washing the feet of the person who had contact with the road was all one needed to be clean again.  This custom is not unlike wiping off our feet on the welcome mat or washing our hands before eating.

All of us were washed with the blood of Christ when we gave our lives to Christ. However we become dirty with our constant contact with the world and the peer pressure to be accepted by the world. As Christians we stumble before God to become more like the world.

Although all of our sins have been forgiven we unknowingly turn our eyes to the ways of the world and become oblivious to the sin of the world. The sin of the world corrupts everything it touches and transforms our lives into an unholy state before God. Sad living by the worldís standards is much easier than the disciplined life of the Christian. Like washing the feet of those who have walked on byways of the world we must cleanse our lives of the filth of the world .

And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. 1 Corinthians 6:11

We can constantly bathe our lives in Godís word and purify our lives as much as possible. With all of our precautions, sin can invade our lives and Jesus is there to reveal sin and help us to avoid that sin in the future. We must work with Christ to correct the problems our sin has created. Correcting the damage our sin creates is always humbling.

whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slaveó just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." Matthew 20:26-28

Being a servant of God is not easy.

Remember the words I spoke to you: 'No servant is greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. John 15:20

Normally the world rejects people of different nationality, beliefs, races, and color for no apparent reason other than they are different. It was true for Jesus and it is true today for those who serve him. Jesus warned the disciples that the cost of being his servant was that the world would persecute them for revealing their sin.  As one of Christís disciples you would become the good Samaritan that washed the wounds of a foreigner you would normally reduce to scum of the earth.  It means that you would have to associate with the tax collector and the prostitute that washed your feet with her tears and hair. It also means you may have do what other Christians think is wrong. Peter wrote that if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. "1 Peter 3:14

"A student is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for the student to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. Matthew 10:24-25

A good Sunday school teacher did not get to be a teacher without experiencing the lessons that involved pain in his or her life. In life I became a carpenter by carrying the lumber, driving the nails and cleaning up after the mess made in building the finished product. Yet, as the leader of carpentry crew, I did just as many little jobs as big ones to complete what I contracted to do. However, as the leader of the crew I had a greater responsibility of making sure the crew was paid for their effort and ensure they had more work in their future. While I was the leader of my carpentry crew, I became a servant to ensure my crewís prosperity. This is also true of being Christ disciples.

The greatest among you will be your servant. Matthew 23:11

Everything that Christians do is done to build the kingdom of God. However, not everything involved with building the kingdom is pleasurable or easy to do. In fact some Christians avoid certain jobs they consider lowly.  In this case, washing the feet of your fellow man serves as an example of the things your pride wonít allow you to do. Yet, those Jobs still need to be done.

The things that stand in the way of the growth of Godís Kingdom are the things we refuse to do. The number of people that call themselves Christians is in the millions which reveals that there no shortage of workers - just those who are afraid to work in Godís field.  Is Jesus Christ truly our Lord when we do not go to make disciples? Confronting the world with their sins is not an easy or a pleasant task and there is a right way and a wrong way to confront the world. But you will never become a soul winner by complaining or sitting at home and twiddling the thumbs procastinating.

 

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