Another winter is past (as I write this), spring is here.
God's year is here and the great festival of the Passover(all 8
days) with its wonderful meaning will soon be upon us once more.
Again through the Lord's word, and the ministry of the
Church of God, we will all be reminded about the awesome reality
of the symbols of the bread and fruit of the vine, along with the
foot washing service that we will all participate in on the eve
of the 14th of Nisan.
We shall go on into the feast of Unleavened Bread and be
reminded once more about putting away sin and eating/living
I would like to look at a certain aspect contained within
the symbolism of the foot washing part of that very special
evening service known as the Passover.
Jesus said during His three and one half year ministry, that
He did not come to be served but to serve. On that last night
before His death He did what the lowest of the servants in a
household did, He washed a number of pairs of feet - His
disciples feet, and said He left us an example to do as He had
done (John 13:4-17).
The symbolism of this act is profound in meaning. It is to
teach us to be a humble serving people to others. Let me put two
thoughts of Paul's together into one: "I warn every one among
you not to estimate and think of himself more highly than he
ought, not to have an exaggerated opinion of his own importance;
but to rate his ability with sober judgement. For if any person
thinks himself to be somebody(too important to condescend
to shoulder another's load), when he is nobody(of superiority
except in his own estimation), he deceives and deludes and cheats
himself. But let every person carefully scrutinize and examine
and test his own conduct and his own work. He can then have the
personal satisfaction and joy of doing something commendable(in
itself alone) without(resorting to) boastful comparison with his
neighbour" (Romans 12:3; Galatians 6:3-4; Amplified Bible,
In Galatians 6 Paul had just finished saying that Christians
should "bear you one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of
Christ"(v.2). This is part of a Christians service in
inter-acting with other Christians. And as Paul showed in
context, this kind of service must be done in humility(verses
Now look at these powerful words from Paul: "Do nothing from
factional motives - through contentiousness, strife, selfishness
or for unworthy ends - or prompted by conceit and empty
arrogance. Instead, in the true spirit of humility (lowliness of
mind) let each regard the others as better than and superior to
himself - thinking more highly of one another than you do of
yourself. Let each of you esteem and look upon and be concerned
for not(merely) his own interests, but also each for the
interests of others. Let this same attitude and purpose and
(humble) mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus - Let him be
your example in humility...." (Philippians 2:3-5; Amplified
Bible, emphasis mine).
Ah, yes, it all comes right back to Christ. He was our
perfect example of humility and service towards His disciples. He
cared for them, He loved them, He taught them the truths of His
Father, He served them, He came to live and die for them and for
all who would accept Him as their personal savior. That is what
the Passover evening is all about, remembering the true lamb of
God and His serving love. As Paul went on to say to the
Philippians the serving humility of Christ went to the point that
although He was in the form of God, was God, a member of the
Godhead, He did not consider it a thing to be eagerly grasped at
or eternally held on to, but was willing to put aside perfect
Spirit holiness as God, and do the Father's will by allowing
Himself to become flesh and blood. He further humbled Himself by
serving humanity throughout His physical life, even to the
extreme of dying a most horrific, painful, scourging and death on
the cross. As Jesus said, no greater love is this, that a man lay
down his life for his friends.
The apostle John was reminded of the love of God when
talking about the message they had heard from the beginning:
"For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that
WE SHOULD LOVE ONE ANOTHER........We know that we have passed
from death unto life, because we LOVE THE BRETHREN. He that LOVES
NOT HIS BROTHER abides in death. Hereby perceive we the love of
God, because He laid down His life for us: and we ought to lay
down our lives for the brethren" (1 John 3:11-16 KJV).
It is interesting to note the Greek tenses for "laid down''
in verse 16. John says God - Christ - laid down His life for us.
He uses the Aorist tense - finished action in past time. John
could have been looking at the whole finished action of the life
of Christ when in the flesh - a life of complete humble service,
or he could have been looking at the specific end of that service
- Jesus' death on the stake for our sins. Either way or both
ways together, the fact of that event in the past MUST LEAD US TO
LIVE A CERTAIN WAY IN THE CONTINUOUS PRESENT, for John goes on to
say that "we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren" - and
he used here the present Greek tense - present action in the
Now we all know of dedicated individuals who work in jobs
that are very dangerous for their lives - jobs that serve and
help the rest of us, I am thinking about those in police and law
enforcement, the firemen/women, the rescuers over land, sea, and
air, and such professions. Each and every day they put their
lives on the line for the rest of humanity. There have been
individuals in the past, and such will also be in the future, who
are average working citizens, that have risked their lives, some
even giving their lives in death, to save someone from peril.
Truly a wonderful gesture on their part.
But that kind of "laying down our lives" was not the focal
point in John's mind here. It was more of an everyday way of
life, practical Christianity, that John was thinking about. The
very next verses prove this to be so.
"But if any one has this world's goods - resources for
sustaining life - and sees his brother and fellow believer in
need, yet closes his heart of compassion against him, how can the
love of God live and remain in him? Little children, let us not
love(merely) in theory or in speech but in deed and in truth - in
practice and in sincerity" (verses 17,18, Amplified Bible). Ah,
and in some ways, this caring, helping, practical serving towards
others, on a daily ongoing life style, can be harder to do than
giving up your physical life in death at one particular moment in
time. We can get so involved in our life, our job, our family and
all the attention that can take, our pleasures and hobbies, that
we have little time to "think about" let alone "do" things that
It is a part of human nature, to be wrapped up in self, to
believe we are not "our brothers keeper." Human nature has not
changed, it is today as it was yesterday, last year, a hundred
and two thousand years ago. That is why John and others in the
New Testament had to write about these things of practical day to
Paul taught that we were not just to be concerned about the
things of ourselves, but also the things of others. That we were
to bear each others burdens, look for ways to help and serve each
other, without of course being busy-bodies, forcing ourselves on
others, obnoxious, which he spoke against elsewhere in his
It is not always easy to keep that pendulum in the middle -
balanced just right, we may make errors and mistakes at times,
some may think "he must have some selfish motive for helping me,"
others "he should just keep to himself and leave the rest of us
alone," Still others may think and even verbalize "I don't know
about this, I suspect he is
up to something," or "he must have a secret agenda we don't know
about - I am
suspicious of him."
Let me tell you from experience, you may be 100% right with
God, He knowing your heart, you may have been as careful as
possible not to give any wrong impressions, as tactful as you
could be in serving and helping others, as humble as possible in
bearing someones burden, as generous as your means allows in
giving to others less fortunate, AND SOME WILL STILL THROW IT
BACK IN YOUR FACE, impute evil motives on your part, and even
tell others "he's not a servant." As shocking as it sounds, I
have seen this happen within the circle of those who call
So don't be surprised if in fulfilling this part of
practical Christianity you find it does not always turn out the
way you intended, for we can not think for others, human nature
is pretty strong in some individuals, and Satan can really
influence and twist some minds in ways that you never imagined.
But does that fact and happenstance from time to time mean you
should stop trying to do what has been commanded of us through
the inspired words of the first apostles? No, not at all!
Paul taught us: "And let us not be weary in well doing: for
in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. As we have
therefore opportunity, let us DO GOOD UNTO ALL MEN, ESPECIALLY
UNTO THEM WHO ARE OF THE HOUSEHOLD OF FAITH" (Gal.6:9-10, KJV).
Naturally, even if a Christian brother or sister, will not
receive what is correctly and in the sight of God, "good" from
you, you cannot force it on them, all you can say is "well
Lord I tried to serve and help, I tried to do what you would have
wanted me to do" and just move on. Those not willing to receive
your service will be the ones at loss and there will be many out
there who will be delighted for you to help them in their needs.
James wrote: "What does it profit my brethren, though a man
say he has faith, and has not works? Can faith save him? If a
brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one
of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be you warmed and filled;
notwithstanding you give them NOT of those things which are
needful to the body; what doth it profit? EVER so faith, if it
has not works is dead, being alone. For as the body without the
spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also" (James
The works of practical Christianity have always been a must
from the very beginning. How could it not have been? The very
nature of God is love, joy, peace, giving, helping, serving,
caring, bearing His childrens burdens, and everything else that
is pure and holy, just and good. His children then by very
nature, the nature of their Father in them, must manifest and
produce humble service.
It has always been this way, it is this way today, it must
be this way in the present walk of the Christian, it will be this
way in the age to come when Jesus literally rules this earth for
a thousand years, and it will remain this way until all that will
enter the Kingdom of God have entered and inherited it.
Jesus gave a parable which has often been called "The
Parable of the last Judgment" by some Bible editors. It is found
in Matthew 25 beginning with verse 31.
It is by context a parable of the millennium. Jesus has
returned in glory with the holy angels, and He sits on His throne
which will be the throne of David(Luke 1:32,33) in the city of
Jerusalem(Jer.3:12-18). All nations will be set before Him. He
will rule them all for 1,000 years(Mat.25:32; Rev.19:11-16).
The people of those nations will be separated one from
another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. The
sheep on His right hand, the goats on His left hand.
The sheep go on to inherit the Kingdom. Now we could come up
with many "theological" reasons as to why they inherit the
Kingdom - their faith in Christ, their sins being forgiven, their
repentant attitude, being saved by grace etc. But in this parable
Jesus gives us another ingredient that must be a part of the
salvation process, without it you will be classified as a goat
and go away into everlasting punishment(not "punishing" note),
but the righteous into life eternal(verse 46).
What Jesus gave here was classified by Him as RIGHTEOUSNESS,
and without it no one would inherit the Kingdom. What is this
righteousness? Read it for yourself - verses 33-40. It is all
summed up in a few words - PRACTICAL, AS A WAY OF LIFE, HUMBLE
SERVING TOWARDS OTHERS!
When was the last time you literally gave of your food or
drink to help someone in need of such items? Not because they
were lazy bums trying to get a free ride off society, but because
they found themselves in circumstances beyond their control, or
within their control but had made some bad decisions(who is not
without error and sin?) and now needed a helping hand to get up
and keep going.
When was the last time you helped a stranger in need? I know
today in certain parts of our lands you have to use wisdom in
stopping to help "strangers" for some have been robbed or even
killed in so doing, but there will be the times when your "gut
feeling" or will it be God's Spirit will tell you "this is okay,
What about those with no clothes or the sick of the world?
Those in undeveloped third world countries, if you had the means
to help, when did you help last? I know, some will say the
agencies working to help these people, get most of the money or
goods, and there is corruption in high places, so they are not
helped as they should be. Many who then could help do not. It is
true there has been "rip offs" by some agencies, but there are
many who are honest, above board, and do a fine service for the
When was the last time you took the time to visit anyone in
the hospital - a church brother/sister, a family member, a
co-worker, a neighbour, or even an enemy?
What about someone in prison? Is your church group near a
prison? Have you looked into what might be available for some of
you to do in the way of a "prison ministry"?
Jesus did not have to give any more examples concerning
practical serving Christianity, the point He was making is very
There are dozens of other examples we could come up with.
When did you last stop in to see the little old lady(or man) down
the street, and ask if you could do something for them? When did
you last volunteer your talent or time for some worthy project?
When that natural disaster hit your town or county, were you(if
able and healthy) out there helping those in need? When the
school your child attends has some good upright function on to
serve the community, and it is possible for you to help out, will
you do so? Will you look after your neighbours child for a day
when they have a special(no children allowed) appointment to
attend, and take no money for the effort? When was the last time
you let someone cry on your shoulder because they knew they could
and you would understand and cry with them?
Are people able to share with you their burdens and thoughts
about this or that issue or life problem, without wondering if
you will ''blab it all around town" or pass it on to others all
twisted up and completely distorted from the original? Is someone
able to come to you in a humble kind spirit of correction, show
you where you were wrong about something, without you going off
behind their back to some person in "authority"(i.e. minister),
exaggerating or even lying about how they came to you, and
telling this "authority" you are offended? Do you like to say
just enough half truths, complete untruths, or exaggerations to a
third party that leads to the third and original party having
the conflict while you are able to jump clear to one side and go
your merry way?
If you are successful in the physical things of life, do you
look down your nose upon those who are not? Do you have little
time, little patience, and certainly no serving to those "beneath
you"? Do you "dote" all over those who come into the assembly
(especially new ones) who are dressed in fine garments and seem
to "have it all together" while not offering even a glass of cold
water to the down and out person who walked in also?
Are you looking for individuals to pass your families good
used clothing on to, when they do not need them any more? How
often does it cross your mind when going through clothes sales
for bargains to say, "well this will not fit me but I know
somebody it will and they will love it, I can afford to buy it
for them and so I will"? When standing at the busy shopping mall
doors for whatever reason, and we see people or a delivery man
loaded with boxes or bags having trouble opening the doors, do we
offer to help or turn the other way as if we hadn't seen the
Do you hold a grudge and lack forgiveness with some while
showing honor and respect towards others, especially if economic
status is involved? Is it hard for you to condescend to men of
low estate? Will you only scratch someones back if they will
scratch yours? Are you able to use loving kind "tack" and
encouragement with those who may have problems of one sort or
another, such as the common overweight problem that 70% of North
Americans have, or do you blurt out things like "I can't imagine
Christ being overweight"?
On and on we could go with the proper and wrong ways to
serve as Jesus said, "the least of these My brethren."
It is time to examine this part of our Christianity, time
to examine where we stand in the every day practiced work of the
Lord, time to examine where we are in humble service.
Written for the Passover season, 1996
All studies may be copied, published, emailed, and distributed as
led by the Spirit. Keith trusts nothing will be changed (except
for spelling and punctuation errors) without his consent.