LOOKING UP: A truth easily forgotten
Thursday, 06 September 2012 by Joe Baisden
Recently, I was reminded of learning a truth while hosting a revival meeting almost 20 years ago. When you preach for the same church for a long, long time, it is good that you have occasions to listen to someone else deliver the Word. Most of the time it is helpful, even if now and then it just helps you learn how not to preach.
But the truth I want to write about came when my friend Charles Hodge of Duncanville held a gospel meeting here in Belton. Throughout the four days of presentations Charles constantly reminded us that familiar scriptures need to be read more carefully. It was while he expounded on the familiar scene in John 13 where Jesus washed the disciples' feet that he uncovered an insight heretofore hidden to me. It had probably been hidden because his point was to reveal a truth I have a tendency to resist.
Please take the time to read carefully John 13:1-17.
An obvious application of the passage is to point out the need for us to cultivate the kind of humility and grace that will let us wash others' feet (serve others) as Jesus did. Not so obvious is the application directing us to allow others to wash our feet (serve us).
Notice that Peter adamantly rejects the idea of Jesus washing his feet with these words: "No, you shall never wash my feet" (v. 8).
How often do we refuse to let someone do something they desire to do for us? In our refusal, we just may project the attitude that we don't want anyone to help us because we are more comfortable doing the helping—being in control—calling the shots. Though unsaid, we may leave the impression that we don't want to be put in the position of being obligated to the giver for services received.
Jesus said that it is more blessed to give than to receive, and we prefer to claim the greater blessing!
As this preacher friend skillfully worked the scripture, shedding light on this other side of the story, his words probed deep into my heart. I was convicted of how disrespectful of others I had been by failing to let them do the washing now and then.
I thought a lot about the message as the day wore on and shared my thoughts with a close friend. I said to him, "You have pointed that fault out to me before, haven't you?"
He nodded in the affirmative with that look that says, "And you wouldn't believe me."
Pride is the problem. Pride may appear in a life in the form of self-righteous arrogance and revolting haughtiness. I may also be disguised as selfish selflessness, which renders the good will of others impotent. No matter how it appears, it is still pride that stands in the way of the grace that humility both gives and receives. If our lives are low on grace, we might check ourselves to see if we have short-circuited grace with the prideful attitude reminiscent of Peter's initial refusal to let Jesus wash his feet.
Another great friend of mine, preacher/psychologist Paul Faulkner says, "If you know who you are (as Jesus did) you can wash feet." I would add, "If you know Whose you are, you can allow others to wash your feet."
Less than 24 hours after coming to grips with this great truth during that revival this caregiver, yours truly, needed care himself. It graciously came and I did not resist it. You see, it is blessed to give, but it is also blessed to receive, and it is downright unchristian to rob others of their privilege to be on the giving end.
Father, please forgive me when I have let pride stand in the way of being a gracious receiver.
"Jesus answered, 'Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.'" – John 13:8