Serving God And Others

Children walking together with arms around each other

Being a Christian is a wonderful thing!  Having the forgiveness of sins, having been born again, and having fellowship with God and other Christians are just some of the reasons that living the life of a child of God is so fantastic.  However, being a Christian also means that I am supposed to “deny self” and serve others (Matt. 16:24).  These are some things that certain people are not willing to do.  If we refuse, then we will not be the people that God expects us to be.  Paul explained, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:10).  With that understanding, a Christian should be actively engaged in “good works”.  To help us understand what “good works” are, let us notice that Jesus said, “…there is none good but one, that is, God” (Mark 10:18).  If God is “good”, the doing things in a “godly” way would be “good”.  Therefore, to do “good works”, I should study God’s Word to learn what He has identified as “good”.

            On different occasions, the apostles were privileged to hear and see ways that God expected them to be.  One specific time, Jesus taught and demonstrated just how far I should be willing to go to serve others.  After having a meal with His disciples, Jesus then “…laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself” (John 13:4).  Next, Jesus “…poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded” (John 13:5).  For a modern-day reader, the actions that Jesus performed might seem strange.  However, for a first century person, the actions were well known.  Back then, it was a regular occurrence to have different servants for different jobs.  This included the “lowest” of duties, which was to wash the feet of those who entered a home.  This action was done because of how dirty individuals’ feet would get back then.  They did not have modern shoes, but rather, if they had anything, they would have had primitive sandals.  While there was something for the soles of the feet, the upper part of the feet were largely exposed.  After walking outside, the feet would become dusty and dirty.  By having a servant wash visitors’ feet, a householder was extending hospitality to his guests.  One can imagine just how nasty, and possibly stinky, this job was.  It would not be the first choice of jobs if you were someone’s servant.  Yet, Jesus took it upon Himself to perform this duty on His disciples.  At first, Peter, who often seemed to speak when he should have remained silent, told the Lord, “…Thou shalt never wash my feet…” (John 13:8).  It would seem reasonable that Peter did not want Jesus to do such a lowly act for him.  However, Peter did not yet fully understand what Jesus was trying to teach and demonstrate.  John recorded, “So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you?  Ye call me Master and Lord:  and ye say well; for so I am.  If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet.  For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.  Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him” (John 13:12-16).  The great lesson is that each of us should serve one another.  That means that if I have to do the lowliest of actions in order to serve, then I should do such.  That is what Jesus did.  On a separate occasion, Jesus taught His disciples a similar lesson.  He said, “…Ye know that they which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and their great ones exercise authority upon them.  But so shall it not be among you:  but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister:  And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all.  For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:42-45).

            Sadly, too many people do not understand the commitments that they make when becoming a Christian.  Obeying the Gospel is just the beginning, not the end.  After being baptized, I must be engaged in “good works”.  I must be willing to do what is needed, regardless of how lowly it might seem to others.  If I have not matured to that point, then I should grow more spiritually.  Today, the practice of having a servant wash guest’s feet is no longer widespread.  However, the need to serve in other ways is still very much pertinent.  A child of God should be a servant of both God and men!