I’ve told this story twice in the series, but there is nothing to better illustrate the need to serve others than Jesus washing the apostles’ feet. When he was done, Jesus asked them: “Do you understand what I have done for you?” He then continued: “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you” (John 13:13-14).
In another story we have examined, Jesus rebuked the apostles who were fighting among themselves about who was the greatest. “Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant,” he said, “and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:43-45). He was essentially telling them — and consequently us — that they should become servants. Being a servant isn’t how we would like to describe ourselves, but this is how Jesus says we should. So, what do we do? Well, choose to serve. And if we ever feel bad about it, let’s remember it is what Jesus chose! And if God can humble himself, then so can we.
Jesus had what is referred to as a servant-heart. The servant-heart of Christ refers to the humble and selfless attitude demonstrated by Jesus throughout his life and ministry. He consistently put the needs of others before his own, serving and caring for those around him, even to the point of sacrificing his own life for them — and us!
To cultivate a servant-heart, we must practice humility, the third choice we made in this series. We need to develop a selfless attitude, putting the needs of others before our own. In his letter to the Philippians, Paul wrote: Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others (Philippians 4:3-4).
We need to look for opportunities to serve the less fortunate and use our gifts in service to them. The apostle Peter wrote: Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ (1 Peter 4:10-11).
Let me end with a delightful illustration I came across recently. The great violinist, Nicolo Paganini, willed his violin to Genoa — the city of his birth — but only on condition that the instrument never be played. That was a pity because the nature of wood is that it shows little wear as long as it is used. When it isn’t used, it begins to decay. As a result, the exquisite violin room became warped in its beautiful case. It serves as a reminder that a life withdrawn from service to others loses its meaning.
So, let us choose to serve today. And let us be blessed for it. God be with you.