Text: John 13:1-17
Date: November 15, 2009
Serving. The question is not whether we are to serve or not. It's clear in the Bible that we are made by God to serve. But what kind of service are we offering to God? Are we serving like Jesus? What does it take to serve like Jesus? Three things must be properly aligned to be able to serve like Jesus. We must have the right heart, mind, and head.
HEART – must be motivated by Love
In John 13, Jesus was approaching the climax of His life on earth. It was just before the Passover Feast and Jesus knew that the time had come for Him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved His own who were in the world, He now showed them the full extent of His love. Jesus washed His disciples’ feet.
Like Jesus, when we serve, our hearts should be motivated by God's love. A lot of times, we serve out of obligation. In Matthew 23:25-26, Jesus was teaching about the hypocrisy of the teachers of the law and what motivated them. They were squeaky clean on the outside, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. This is telling us that we're all susceptible to having a heart of hypocrisy as we serve. When we serve, it can be out of personal motives. We may want to be recognized and have a title. There are many reasons to serve, but the only reason we should have is love.
Conflicts are beneficial. They reveal the real heart and purpose of the one serving. Through conflict, we will know the condition of our heart. What is the condition of your heart? Are you serving because of a selfish motive? We need to realize that service revolves around the people we serve. In fact, love is the only reason why we serve. It is not for us, it’s for others. In John 13:2, Jesus knew that Judas was going to betray Him. Judas sold Jesus for thirty pieces of silver. That is equivalent to about 4-5 months’ wages and is the price of a slave. Jesus knew Judas was going to betray Him but He proceeded to wash Judas’ feet. Jesus was not selective. How many of us can say and show love to people who have betrayed and hurt us? With the right heart, we will still be able to serve and do good to those who have hurt us. The truth is that whether we serve or not, we will be hurt. People will still hurt and disappoint us. If we follow Jesus Christ, there is no reason not to love because it’s a command. It's a crisis of the will. It isn't about emotions; it's about making a choice to obey God.
Let us remember what Jesus commanded us in Luke 6:27-28 to love our enemies, do good to those who hate us, bless those who curse us, and pray for those who mistreat us.
HEAD – secure in Christ
Real security comes in knowing our position in Christ. Jesus’ security stemmed from knowing that the Father had put all things under His power, and that He had come from God and was returning to God (John 13:3). Jesus is secure knowing He has come from God who has all this power, that's why he could endure humiliation. People who are secure in who they are in Christ can serve like Jesus. Where do you find your own security? In John 12:42-43, many even among the leaders believed in Jesus, but because of the Pharisees they would not confess their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue. They loved praise from men more than praise from God. What are the symptoms of insecure people? They are those who excessively complain, compare, criticize and compete.
What's the cure for insecurity? If we are not careful, we will be getting security in the wrong places like people, position, power, prestige, or possessions.
There is only one real and lasting source of security and that is God - our relationship with Him.
Praises from men are fleeting and will not last, but God's praise is permanent. Colossians 3:1-4 tells us that we have been raised with Christ; therefore we set our hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God and not earthly things.
HANDS – ready for lowly tasks
If you get both your heart and your head in the right perspective for service, it follows that your hands will also be ready for lowly tasks. In John 13:4-5, Jesus 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. Literally, Jesus got dirty. If we have the right heart and mind, we will not have any problem doing lowly and dirty tasks. With the right heart and mind, our service will matter to only one audience – that is God. During that time, serving through the washing of the feet belonged to a slave. It is what slaves do – and Jesus did exactly that. There is nothing too low and demeaning for God to do. If you serve like Jesus, there is nothing that is too dirty for you to do.
In Luke22:24-26, there was a dispute among them as to which of them was considered to be greatest. Jesus said to them, "The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves benefactors. But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves." If our heart and head are not aligned, we will seek the same things. Let us remember that the lowliest tasks are done by people who are great. John 13:17 recalls what Jesus was telling His followers and us right now. Now that we know of these things, we will be blessed if we do them. The path of blessing is through serving. In this, we will be blessed and find joy.