Christianity 201

August 14, 2014

So Let Us Learn How To Serve

Filed under: Uncategorized — paulthinkingoutloud @ 9:15 pm
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John 13:3Jesus 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.

So let us learn how to serve,
And in our lives enthrone Him;
Each other’s needs to prefer,
For it is Christ we’re serving.

~Graham Kendrick, The Servant King

I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet. So you also should wash one another’s feet. I have given you an example. You should do as I have done for you. – John 13:14-15

Today’s post is from the blog Uncommon Grace by Sara Payne. The example in the introduction speaks to a type of “service” that doesn’t really cost anything; it’s driven more by a desire to be in control, a qualified type of helping.  Read this at source by clicking the title below, and if you enjoy devotionals that begin with real life examples and then dig deep into teaching, take some time to look around the rest of her blog.

Helping Without Hurting

I went to the grocery store and as I was leaving, there was a bottleneck of people trying to get out the door. As I trooped through trying to avoid nailing some poor soul in the Achilles tendon with my cart, I realized what the problem was: a woman was blocking half the walkway directing shoppers out. The big rug wasn’t lying completely flat and there was a bump since the edge was folded under. The lady had decided that this was a safety hazard and was telling everyone to watch their step while trying to direct traffic around the mat. She was saying she had called one of the employees to rectify the situation.

I looked twice. Yup. She was telling a store clerk he needed to fix the mat while trying to tell everyone how to exit the store… through the exit. Irony.

She could have just fixed the mat herself. She didn’t even have to touch it or bend over. She could have unfurled it with a toe and gone along her way. Instead, she blocked the door, created a traffic jam, and made someone else come do it. Just because it wasn’t her job.

And yet, I couldn’t help get the feeling that she felt like she was doing something good from the way she motioned to everyone and the way she was instructing the bemused clerk.

And I felt convicted. I try to be a servant and make a difference in the lives of people around me, but this incident made me wonder if what I am doing is really helping.

We can hurt when we try to help. Sometimes, we make more work for those we are trying to serve. Sometimes, we actually cause damage. If we do what we think is best without really understanding the situation, what is done might actually be contrary to the needs of those we are serving.

But we think, “I was trying to help! I was serving!” But, why are we serving? Is it to truly make a difference? Or is it to be seen serving?

Pointing out what needs to be done isn’t really serving. It is leadership and this world has far too many leaders and not nearly enough servants. We might think we are doing something good, but really, we are just in the way.

Serving isn’t celebrated in culture is because it isn’t glamorous. Nobody wants to take on jobs with no visibility or recognition. Yes, recognition feels good, but we should be serving for an audience of One and He doesn’t really care what everyone else thinks. He cares about our hearts.

I also thought about how often I only want to serve when it’s easy. I was incredibly scared when we first became foster parents since this kind of service isn’t easy or even controllable. God gently laid it on my heart though that this is we needed to do because…

It isn’t serving if it doesn’t cost us anything.

Gifts always have a cost and serving is a simply a gift we give to God through our actions. It costs us our time, energy, effort, and often our hearts. We think of these things as ours although they are really all God’s in the first place; He has simply entrusted them to us.

It isn’t using them wisely when we are too wrapped up in ourselves to see that we are in the way with our attempts at serving. We become a barrier rather than a doorway to Christ.

When we are too wrapped up in ourselves, we tend to think more highly of ourselves than we ought and think some jobs are beneath us.That is apparently what the lady thought. It was too much fun to be the leader and tell everyone else what to do. She wasn’t even aware in her apparent egoism that she was the main problem in the mess.

But, Jesus never did this. He had more right than anybody to demand others serve Him yet took on the lowly job of washing the disciples’ feet. In the first century, this was a disgusting, dirty job meant for a slave because everyone wore sandals and walked in filthy, refuse laden streets. It wasn’t a job for a king and yet, our King did it.

If my King can do that, I can get out of my own proverbial doorway and do what needs to be done for Him, quietly and humbly. Anything else becomes a stumbling block for everyone else. The only thing that needs to be left at the door is our egos. When we really see God for all that He is worth, we see how small we really are and how much joy there is in serving, truly serving, Him.


  1. He was naked….He made Himself vulnerable allowing insult from the remaining Body…Us. He lowered Himself as the Servant of Servants….thus raising Him as the King of all Kings in Heaven and on Earth.

    Comment by sunsetatdawn — August 14, 2014 @ 9:47 pm | Reply

    • I just want to clarify for readers the image in the passage quoted.

      There are actually three reasons why it would be wrong to say he was naked at that point; first it says he removed his outer garment, second he did wrap a towel around himself, but third is the whole manner in which a rabbi would want to maintain the respect of his pupils. (For the latter cf. the Jewish understanding of decorum, Noah’s nakedness, or even the father in the Prodigal Son story lifting his tunic to run.)

      However, you are correct that the gesture itself was an act of unbelievable humility. I would have repeated the Philippians passage in this devotional, but I do use it quite frequently. But yes, after he humbled himself God “exalted him to the highest place…”

      Furthermore, it is generally accepted by some Bible scholars that Jesus would have been crucified naked. If that’s the case, an accurate representation would certainly change a lot of classical religious art work.

      I’m glad you commented on this, it helps us to really focus on that act.

      Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — August 14, 2014 @ 10:06 pm | Reply

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