Summary: Adapted Rick Warren Sermon for the 40 Days of Community on the need to demonstrate our love for each other by serving each other together.
Today is the last in our series, what on earth are we here for? What has God placed on this earth to do? To love God and love each other. Remember love is a verb, it is not so much something we feel, as much as it is something we do. Love is a choice. Jesus taught and modeled for us that one of the primary ways love is lived out is when we serve each other. In John’s gospel we read of what happened the night Jesus shared his last meal, the Passover meal (Last Supper) with his disciples:
NLT John 13:1 He [Jesus] now showed the disciples the full extent of his love... And he got up from the table, removed his outer garments, and taking a towel, wrapped it around his waist, and poured water in a basin. Then he began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel he had around him.
Jesus, the Son of God, demonstrated the full extent of his love by getting down on his knees in humility and washed his disciple’s filthy feet. He showed his love by serving them. After Jesus washed their feet he said to his disciples, "And since I, the Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet. I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you (John 13:14-15)."
What Jesus was saying to his disciples, and to all of us who call ourselves disciples of Jesus, is that he expects us to do what he did. We must demonstrate our love by washing each other’s feet, meaning we serve each other. Anyone can say they love others, but the proof is in the serving. How are you serving your brothers and sisters in Christ or Christ’s church?
Serving requires humility.
In order for us to have a servant’s heart it will require humility. Serving requires humility. Philippians 2:3 Don’t be selfish; don’t live to make a good impression on others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourself.
Some of the biggest problems we as human beings have are pride and selfishness. Luke’s gospel account tells us on that very same night in which Jesus washed their feet the disciples were arguing over which one of them was the greatest (Lk. 22:25). So I can imagine the disciples all sitting around the table in awkward silence wondering who was going to have to wash their feet. No one was willing to humble themselves and make the first move taking the role of servant, because it would be like admitting they weren’t the greatest. It was an issue of pride. Yet what was Jesus’ response?
NLT Luke 22:26 But among you, those who are the greatest should take the lowest rank, and the leader should be like a servant. 27 Normally the master sits at the table and is served by his servants. But not here! For I am your servant.
Jesus made it clear we are to love by serving, no matter what our station in life. Jesus could serve others in humility because he knew who he was, and what he came to do. He didn’t have to prove anything. He wasn’t worried about impressing people, or disappointing people’s expectations of him. Unlike the disciples, he wasn’t concerned about what they would think of him if he played the role of servant. He was truly free to serve in humble submission to God. Too often we get caught up in thinking we need to impress people, and we are unwilling to be humble, but it is knowing who we are and whose we are which allows us to be a servant. We are a child of God, loved by him.
Sometimes I find we are unwilling to serve certain people because, like the disciples, we don’t want to look like a servant, we want to be in charge. For example how often are you serving your spouse, your coworker, your boss, your employees, your parent, or child? Do you find yourself thinking, I’m not going to do that, that’s not my job. Whether it is a responsibility at home, or a task at work? I remember one time at work the garbage kept piling up because no one was willing to be the servant and take it out 20’ to the dumpster, ’it’s not my job,’ we all thought. Well if I do that, they will take advantage of me. I remember an episode of Everybody Loves Raymond where Ray came home from work trip and he set his suitcase down in the stairwell, and he thought his wife was going to bring it upstairs, and she thought he was going to bring it up, and so the suitcase sat there right in the stairwell, a day, a week, two weeks went by and nobody would touch it. It became a matter of pride. I’m not going to move that suitcase because if I do, than they win. Because neither was willing to be the humble servant, the suitcase became an explosive issue in their home.