Two words – serving others – reveal the secret to a great life.
Jesus of Nazareth showed us how to serve when he humbly washed the dirty feet of his disciples. He urged his disciples to follow his example.
We have a choice. We can strive to have people serve us or we can find ways to serve others. One choice leads to misery, the other to joy and peace.
The word “others” calls to mind the Salvation Army, founded by William Booth. Booth’s wife Catherine served the poor and homeless alongside her husband. She taught their children to serve. Every night when she put them to bed, the last word she uttered in the ear of each child was the word “others.” For Catherine and William, this was the ultimate purpose of the Salvation Army: to serve the people Jesus described as “the least of these.”
Instead of making resolutions as a new year begins, why not simply rise every morning looking for ways to “wash feet.” When Jesus washed the feet of his disciples, he explained that he did so as an example of how he expected them to live.
Jesus once said that he had not come into the word “to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom” for others. These words, found in Mark 10:45, have been called “the most revolutionary verse in the Bible.”
Why revolutionary? Perhaps it’s because so many of us are “control freaks.” We want to rule, to have others serve us. Humble servanthood is not our game. For some of us, life is all about me, what I want and what pleases me. Selfishness rules out thoughts of “others.”
We do have a choice. To live as authentic followers of Jesus, we must choose to serve others. We wash feet; it is not optional. That’s why Albert Schweitzer and Mother Teresa are universally admired. Both of them washed feet. They served others. They modeled servant-hood. Their example inspires us!
There are many ways to “wash feet.” Jim does it by going grocery shopping for a home-bound neighbor. Ron does it by being available 24/7 to a friend who is recovering from addiction to alcohol. Coralie does it by cooking meals for “the least of these” in a poor neighborhood. Paul does it by cutting the lawn for a neighbor who is recovering from surgery. Tommy and Nell do it by delivering meals, prepared by their church, to homebound members.
Look around; you can find simple ways to wash feet, thus sharing the love of Jesus in “deeds of love and mercy.” Don’t wait for a “committee” to approve your love in action; just go do it! And do it in the name of Jesus.
I visited my friend Nathan in his home. He was suffering with terminal cancer. His friend John was there, massaging Nathan’s back and legs. I stood there praising Jesus for the privilege of watching John, a retired male nurse, “washing the feet” of his friend. John didn’t have to tell Nathan he loved him; his hands were doing that.
Surely serving others is the secret to a life well-lived. And could it be that the best way to recommend Jesus is to serve others? If that’s true, you know what to do next. Take your basin and towel and go wash some feet. It’s that simple.