She sat down in the back row. Aching. Her heart aching from too many negative events in her life. Her body still aching from a recent illness. Her feet aching from standing all day, serving too many hamburgers.
Still dressed in her work uniform and smelling like hamburgers, Grace came to her church’s midweek service, not having time to go home and change.
The preacher went to the pulpit and said, “You probably noticed that I didn’t give out the topic of my sermon for tonight. I did that on purpose. I didn’t want you to stay away.”
What? All the members looked puzzled.
“I want us to prepare our hearts for something special tonight.” The preacher then called for the deacons to bring out bowls of water and towels.
A soft moan swept across the sanctuary.
“I want us to think of the days of Jesus and how guests were welcomed into a home. Dust from walking the dirt roads stuck to one’s sandaled feet. Mud or animal deposits might be stepped in as well. So, to welcome guests into their master’s home, servants took water and a towel to cleanse the dirt from the feet of guests.
“When Jesus and the disciples finished the last supper they would share together, Jesus took a towel and a basin of water and began to wash the feet of the disciples.
“What was His attitude as He kneeled before them? Self-renunciation, humility, love, submission. This was a doulos attitude. Doulos is the Greek word for a bondservant, a slave whether voluntary or involuntary, the highest form of self-renunciation.
“Jesus told the disciples that their attitude was to be like His, for He did not come to be served but to serve.
“It does not matter the condition of your feet today, whether you have on holey socks or your feet smell from the day’s work. It takes a servant’s heart to kneel before another, to humble himself or herself.”
After praying, the preacher softly asked, “Do the sins of others smell to you? Are there holes in their hearts? Are their souls, s-o-u-l-s, worn out just as their soles, s-o-l-e-s, may be? There is no judgment here tonight; only humble service of one to another.
“I want you to consider this: Will you have this humble spirit and attitude as you submit to the service of the one next to you and offer your service to another?”
Grace’s first reaction was to recoil: I can’t take my shoes off in front of these people! And I don’t want to wash someone else’s stinky feet! Jolting her out of her thoughts was the sound of shoes dropping throughout the sanctuary.
Members lowered to their knees, taking turns to wash the feet of the one next to them, treating them as a guest in the house of their Master.
Though some pulled away just as Peter pulled away from Jesus, others complied to the washing, as they wiped away the tears streaming down their faces.
Finally submitting, Grace bent down on her knees to wash her neighbor’s feet.
As she left that night, she, too, had tears stinging her cheeks, for her heart had changed, just as others had. All left the service with a servant’s heart, a doulos spirit…with humility. As grace on its knees.
~Do we have a willing, humble doulos attitude, one that will…
*kneel before others with a servant’s heart to serve them?
*not judge the smell of their sins?
*uplift the distress of their worn out souls?
*comfort the pain of the holes in their hearts?
*help them cleanse the dirt accumulated from their path of life?
Jesus said, “I am among you as one who serves…I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you…If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.” (Luke 22:27b NLT, John 13:15, 17 NKJV)
What humble “foot washing” service can we provide for the guests in the Master’s house? May we take up the towel of service to others with a humble doulos spirit…