Serving with Love in the Home

LittleFeet

My kids’ feet stink. I am not exaggerating; S.T.I.N.K.  In the hot and humid Louisiana summer their little feet sweat.  Even in those half sneaker, half sandal shoes they wear everyday they just get gross.  We have a shoe shelf (pile) at the front door and sometimes when my husband walks in from work he gets a not-so-very-pleasant welcome to his nose. Occasionally each shoe gets a sprinkling of baby powder and a spray of air freshener, but the problem returns the next time they wear them.  Sometimes it is even unbearable to sit next to them on the couch, or heaven forbid, the dinner table.

So inevitably most days I end up cleaning at least one little person’s feet.  Sometimes we use soap and water, sometimes-just baby wipes.   Just the other day, in a moment of frustration and annoyance of the stinky feet problem, I was roughly wiping my child’s feet.  They winced a little and I realized how rough my hands and my heart were being on them in that moment.   I was convicted and ashamed. Mostly because of my ignorance to the very close comparison it all had to Jesus’ beautiful example of loving service from John 13.

Before the Passover Jesus, knowing his fate, humbled himself before his disciples.

He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him.  When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. (John 13:4-5;12-15)

As parents, especially mothers we have ample opportunity to live out this lesson Jesus gave.

We clean up snot and spit-up, sometimes even with our own clothing. (Note how Jesus wiped them with the towel he was wearing.) We change diapers and wash clothes only to wake up the next day to do it all over again.  We cook elaborate meals only to have to get up from the table and clean the huge mess in the kitchen.  Whether you work or stay home, raising kids and caring for your family is a demanding job.

If you are like me though, from time to time, or even quite often you may find it hard to do these things without getting frustrated.

“Really? I just did your laundry yesterday! How could your hamper be full already, boys?”

“We were late for church again (or didn’t even go) because the baby had his third diaper blowout of the morning just as we were putting him in the car seat to leave.”

“How did you get peanut butter in your hair? We haven’t eaten peanut butter in 4 days!”

“You were just sitting on the potty for an hour. Why did you immediately come and pee on my bed?”

For me, personally it is always a pride issue in my heart.  Somewhere deep down some little voice is telling me I am somehow higher than all this mess.  But I am not.  That is a lie.

This is my joy.  This is all I ever wanted and more.  When I start to hear those little voices get louder (because they NEVER seem to go away), I have to remind myself of Jesus’ example.

He humbled himself to clean the filthy feet of grown men, even the one who was about to betray him and hand him over to those who would crucify him.   How easy it would have been to skip right past Judas’ feet or even wait until Judas was gone to do this act of service and love.  But he did it with love.

Here are 4 ways that we can look to Jesus’ teachings and learn from his example of love.

1. Jesus didn’t just command us how to live, he SHOWED us.

For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them. (John 13:15-17)

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. (John 15:9-11)

2.He showed us that following Him would not be easy or comfortable.

And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. (Mark 8:34-35)

And Jesus called them to him and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:42-45)

3. He showed us that we would never be expected to do it on our own, for we cannot.

When Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the word, he loved them to the end.  During supper, when the devil had already put it in the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. (John 13:1-4)

I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. (John 15: 5-7)

4. He showed us that service is full of love, self- denying and sacrificial love.

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35)

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:12-13)

It is a blessing to have these three beautiful children to care for and this home and this family to be my work day in and day out.  Even when it is dirty, frustrating, stinky, monotonous and tiring it is the work the Lord has called me to do and I am commanded to do it in love, forgetting myself and putting the needs of others above my own.

Do I always succeed in this? NO. I fall short. I fight the battle against pride in my heart from moment to moment.  But this I know:

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:6-8)

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Philippians 2:3-8)

May we be encouraged by these truths and grow in love as we serve our families; abiding in Him.

This post was shared on 27 Aug 2013 to: