The Tabernacle Scroll

Issue 36

"If I then, your Lord and Teacher (Master), have washed your feet, you ought [it is your duty, you are under obligation, you owe it] to wash one another's feet. For I have given you this as an example, so that you should do [in your turn] what I have done to you. I assure you, most solemnly I tell you, a servant is not greater than his master, and no one who is sent is superior to the one who sent him." (John 13:14,15. Amplified Bible).

As we read the gospels, we see that the principles of humility and servanthood are at the very heart of Christ's teaching. These principles are so closely intertwined that you cannot have one without the other. We need to work at them because they are essential not only to Christian leadership but also to Christian community life.

Jesus said, "Blessed are the poor in spirit" (Matt.5: 3). To be poor in spirit is to recognize our utter spiritual poverty apart from God and our utter dependence on His help. It is the opposite of pride, self-reliance and self-satisfaction. The psalmist recognizes being 'poor in spirit' when he says "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise" (Ps 51:17).

Jesus instructs: "Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble of heart" (Matt.11: 29). Too many religious leaders today do not have gentle humble hearts. They use people to advance themselves and their own kingdoms. They exploit others to gain money, success and position, and to satisfy their own ambitions. Jesus warned not only to beware of them, but also not to become like them. You and I are to follow His example. His principles of success and greatness are different from those of this godless world's.

Jesus taught that "if anyone wants to be first, he shall be last of all, and servant of all"(Mark 9:33-35). He was saying that true greatness is not achieved by striving for prominence or grasping for power, but by a humble, self-effacing attitude of service to all. Competitiveness in the church is like a cancer and is completely hostile to Jesus' body, which is the church. It comes from pride. A proud person "is an abomination to the Lord" (Prov.16: 5a). God resists the proud (James 4: 6).

During the last Passover meal, the disciples were striving for the most prominent place at the table, and Jesus again patiently instructed them not to act like worldly leaders (Luke 22:24-27). At this meal Jesus demonstrated that his chosen symbol is the towel, not elaborate clerical garments or prominent positions.

Servanthood is a measure of spiritual maturity. It reflects true discipleship and commitment.

Have you done an honest 'servant-heart' check recently? Or are you still trying to look better than your brother?

            Devotional                                                                                                                            Preach The Word The Word with Pastor Joseph Rodrigues