Mothers for Prodigals

Sunday, August 4, 2013

A Heart of Humility

Have you ever laid aside your garments and put on the cloak of humility? Humility and lay aside my garments—what does that mean? Before answering those questions, let’s consider the actions of Jesus when He humbly “laid aside His garments” in John 13:1-17.

Now before the Feast of the Passover, Jesus knowing that His hour had come that He would depart out of this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end. During supper, the devil having already put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, to betray Him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come forth from God and was going back to God, got up from supper, and laid aside His garments; and taking a towel, He girded Himself.
Then He poured water into the basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded. So He came to Simon Peter. He said to Him, “Lord, do You wash my feet?” Jesus answered and said to him, “What I do you do not realize now, but you will understand hereafter.” Peter said to Him, “Never shall You wash my feet!” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.” Simon Peter said to Him, “Lord, then wash not only my feet, but also my hands and my head.” Jesus said to him, “He who has bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you.” For He knew the one who was betraying Him; for this reason He said, “Not all of you are clean.”
So when He had washed their feet, and taken His garments and reclined at the table again, He said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? You call Me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am. If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a slave is not greater than his master, nor is one who is sent greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them. (NASB)
It’s hard to imagine our Heavenly Father, the King of Kings, God of the Universe acting like a servant, but Scripture tells us He did. Approximately thirty-three years prior to this experience, God put aside His heavenly garment of the righteous Almighty God and put on the earthly garment of human flesh in the form of Jesus. He stooped to eye level so that human beings could get a glimpse of who He was and is. As He lived, He exemplified the kind of life His people were to live. Then, when His time on earth was drawing to a close, Jesus stooped lower to wash the feet of His disciples who were sinful human beings. 
What would possess our omnipotent (supreme) Father God to do such a thing like washing dirty feet, the job of a servant? Let’s try to understand His actions by discovering the significance of foot washing and the duties of a servant during this time.
In ancient civilizations, one of the ways that hosts conveyed hospitality to guests was by washing their feet. Most everyone wore sandals and it was a matter of cleanliness. But water was even offered as a courtesy to those who wore shoes. The host either provided water for guests to wash their feet, served them by washing their feet, or provided a servant to wash their feet. Several places in the Bible make mention of foot washing. Some examples are below.
Let a little water be brought, and then you may all wash your feet and rest under this tree. Genesis 18:4 (NIV)
“My lords,” he said, “please turn aside to your servant’s house. You can wash your feet and spend the night and then go on your way early in the morning.” Genesis 19:2 (NIV)
So the man went to the house, and the camels were unloaded. Straw and fodder were brought for the camels, and water for him and his men to wash their feet. Genesis 24:32 (NIV)
The steward took the men into Joseph’s house, gave them water to wash their feet and provided fodder for their donkeys. Genesis 43:24 (NIV)
Servitude or slavery played a very important role in ancient civilizations. Slaves were used, not only in domestic life, but also in factories, shops, mines, farms, and ships. Slavery was generally forced upon people through various ways, and slaves or servants were thought of as property, not as citizens. Servants had to perform certain duties, and the Bible gives examples. 

A son honors his father, and a servant his master. Malachi 1:6 (NASB)

All who are under the yoke as slaves are to regard their own masters as worthy of all honor so that the name of God and our doctrine will not be spoken against. Those who have believers as their masters must not be disrespectful to them because they are brethren, but must serve them all the more, because those who partake of the benefit are believers and beloved. Teach and preach these principles. 1 Timothy 6:1-2 (NASB)

Slaves, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in the sincerity of your heart, as to Christ; not by way of eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart. Ephesians 6:5-6 (NASB)
Slaves, in all things obey those who are your masters on earth, not with external service, as those who merely please men, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. Colossians 3:22 (NASB)
Servants, be submissive to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and gentle, but also to those who are unreasonable. 1 Peter 2:18 (NASB)
It is required of stewards that one be found trustworthy. 1 Corinthians 4:2
Teach slaves to be subject to their masters in everything, to try to please them, not to talk back to them, and not to steal from them, but to show that they can be fully trusted, so that in every way they will make the teaching about God our Savior attractive. Titus 2:9-10 (NIV)

Servants were supposed to be humble and one of the first verses to show humility through the service of washing feet was in 1 Samuel 25:41. It reads—She bowed down with her face to the ground and said, “I am your servant and am ready to serve you and wash the feet of my lord’s servants.” 1 Samuel 25:41(NIV) Abigail’s service defused a very volatile situation. It’s a very interesting story, and if interested, read about David, Nabal, and Abigail in 1 Samuel 25. 

Scripture repeatedly tells us that servants are to be humble, respectful, faithful, sincere, obedient, trustworthy, and submissive. The one person who completely fits the description of a true servant is Jesus Christ; while on earth He exemplified servanthood. In fact, the Bible tells us He was the Servant of all people. 

For even the Son of Man came not to have service rendered to Him, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many. Mark 10:45 (AMP)

God sent Jesus to earth to demonstrate a better way of living. Even though servitude or slavery looked like it put some people under the feet of other people, it was the attitude that Jesus wanted all people to learn. Submission kept good situations from going bad and as in the case of David and Abigail, that form of humility kept a bad situation from growing worse. Submission and humble obedience in a servant involves laying aside the garments of retaliation, anger, jealousy, hate, prejudice, etc. and putting on forgiveness, patience, love, etc. Being a servant of the Lord means living and loving like Jesus. Here’s how Paul describes it in Colossians.

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:12-17 (NIV)
Paul tells us in Colossians to clothe ourselves with the love of Christ. We do that by following the greatest commandment as stated in Matthew 22:37-40—love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself. When we love this way, Jesus is positioned as Lord of our lives and His lordship is expressed in our service to others. By truly loving God, we can love the people in our lives. Paul tells us in Philippians that in our relationships, we are to have the mind of Christ Jesus. Read below....

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God,
    did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
    by taking the very nature of a servant,
    being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
    he humbled himself
    by becoming obedient to death—
        even death on a cross!
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
    and gave him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
    in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
    to the glory of God the Father. 
Philippians 2:5-11 (NIV)

In order to lovingly and humbly serve God with every part of our being, we focus on Him and not the naysayers and circumstances around us. Mary of Bethany demonstrated humble service to the Lord Jesus when she anointed His feet. Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. John 12:3 (NIV)

If we have laid aside our garments of sin and put on the loving cloak of humble obedience in Christ’s name, then we are truly walking in the service of the Lord. Our relationship with the Lord and with others will be as God intended. We will be the hands that wash the feet of those who need the love of the Lord.

The purpose of my instruction is that all believers would be filled with love that comes from a pure heart, a clear conscience, and genuine faith. 1 Timothy 1:5 (NLT)
He has told you, O man, what is good;
And what does the Lord require of you
But to do justice, to love kindness,
And to walk humbly with your God? 
Micah 6:8 (NASB)

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