Summary: What does a servant’s heart look like?
7: A Life of Meaning Series
February 15th, 2009
A Servants Heart
Does anyone here have a problem with feet? Do you find them disgusting? I knew a girl in my youth group growing up who was absolutely terrified of feet. If you were to take your shoes off in front of this girl she would scream as if she was about to be killed by a scary monster in a teen horror movie and run away covering her face with her hands. It was hilarious. When I was growing up I thought this was the weirdest thing in the world. Feet are a very useful part of the body. Walking would be a whole lot less comfortable without them and everyone has them. So I did not understand why anyone would have a problem with feet. I would later come to find out that this problem is not all that uncommon. My wife is a foot-a-phob. It makes me laugh. There are a lot of people who find feet dirty and gross and cannot stand the thought of them. These are the kind of people who have nightmares about churches doing foot washing services.
Now in our culture foot-washing services are symbolic more than they are significant. We are taking a cultural practice from the ancient world and using it as an illustration or an example of someone with a servants heart. In the ancient world foot washing was done by servants. We have been talking over the last few weeks about putting your faith to work by acting on your beliefs. We have been talking about service. When Jesus talked about it He washed feet but that had significant meaning to that culture. So what it does it mean to be a servant today? What does it mean to have the heart of a servant? What does a servants heart look like?
Lets look at an example of foot-washing in the New Testament to see if it answers our question. Look at Luke 7:36. There are parallels to this text in Matthew 26 Mark 14 and John 12. These are all not likely the same event being the details are different but it is possibly the same woman in all these accounts. Here is the story. Jesus is going to have diner with a man by the name of Simon who is a Pharisee. As a Pharisee he is one of the religious leaders of this time.
Lk 7:36 Now one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, so he went to the Pharisees house and reclined at the table. Lk 7:37 When a woman who had lived a sinful life in that town learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisees house, she brought an alabaster jar of perfume, Lk 7:38 and as she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them. Lk 7:39 When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is that she is a sinner. Lk 7:40 Jesus answered him, Simon, I have something to tell you.Tell me, teacher, he said. Lk 7:41 Two men owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. Lk 7:42 Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he canceled the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more? Lk 7:43 Simon replied, I suppose the one who had the bigger debt canceled. You have judged correctly, Jesus said. Lk 7:44 Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. Lk 7:45 You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. Lk 7:46 You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Lk 7:47 Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little.Lk 7:48 Then Jesus said to her, Your sins are forgiven. Lk 7:49 The other guests began to say among themselves, Who is this who even forgives sins? Lk 7:50 Jesus said to the woman, Your faith has saved you; go in peace.
This story shows us what a servants heart looks like but in order to see it there are some things we must understand. Our culture is very different from the culture of the ancient world. We live in a society thats primary focus is on money and time. In the ancient world these may have been important but they were less significant than honor and respect. Honor refers to the public acknowledgment of a persons worth and its antithesis shame would be a lack of worth. At this time ones honor was relative to their ability to embody the virtues or attributes that were valued by their specific society. Children were raised from birth to seek honor and avoid disgrace. So from an early age they were conditioned to act within the confines of an honor-shame society. Insulting someone or disgracing them in any way publicly would have been far more serious than it is today. The most important thing you could get was honor and the thing you wanted to avoid the most was shame.