If the person you loved most – your wife, your mom, your best friend – needed help, would you step up to the plate? Sure you would. And a big part of what would motivate us would be all the things that person has done for us. We would serve them because of who they are. Nothing wrong with that!
But that’s not why Jesus served. It’s not what prompted him to fill a bowl with water, tie a towel around his waist, and start silently washing his disciple’s feet. (In those days people walked everywhere, usually in sandals – so when they arrived, their feet were caked with dirt and whatever else was on the road. It wasn’t uncommon for wealthier hosts to have a servant on hand to wash guests’ feet.)
This is not to say that Jesus didn’t love his disciples. He did! But that’s not what ultimately drove him to serve them. John tells us why Jesus did it...
"...he knew that the Father had given him authority over everything and that he had come from God and would return to God" - John 13:3
Jesus didn’t serve the disciples because of who they were. He served them because of who he was.
There are two attitudes you and I can choose as we go about our everyday lives. We can do good for others only when we feel they deserve it; only when we think we owe them. Or we can give our lives away for others whether they deserve it or not. In other words, we can serve based on who other people are. Or we can serve based on who we are.
If you find yourself getting frustrated with the area in which God has called you to serve, or with the people who serve alongside you, ask yourself why you started serving in the first place. Was it because of who the people you’re serving are? Or because of whom you are? When we know who we are – a child of God, a servant of Jesus – we don’t feel the urge to offer or withhold our best based on anyone else’s actions at all. We just serve, gladly.
Because that’s who we are.
“Jesus, at times I forget who I am. I act like I have to preserve my life, time and resources at all costs. When that happens, I lose my joy – I let it depend on how things are going or how other people are acting. But when I remember who I am, then I’m free to serve with an attitude of gratitude; no matter what my circumstances are, or how people respond. Help me remember who I am."
Listen to this song. Pastor Steven listens to this to always remind him about the passion that comes with serving God.