Fruit of the Spirit:
Disaster Relief – United States and Caribbean
Bible Memory Verse:
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.””
(Jn. 13:34-35, NASB)
As I Have Done For You
Washing Feet: A Commandment to Love
Today’s Reading: Jn. 13:3-15
Feet. Dirty, smelly, funky feet. Feet you don’t want to touch. Feet that have walked on dusty, dirty, unpaved roads. Feet exposed to the grime, muck and mud of Israel’s paths. Feet that stepped in stuff you don’t want to step in and definitely don’t want to touch.
Filthy, nasty, stinky feet.
The feet of twelve men – twenty four dirty feet.
Two of which He knew were going to walk into a Garden just a few hours later to lead a crowd that would seize Him, put Him on trial, wrongfully convict Him, sentence Him to death and, less than 24 hours later, crucify Him.
Not likely pedicured, dainty, fresh-smelling, pleasant or clean.
Still, He washed each of those feet. Even the betrayer’s feet.
He argued with the stubborn one – the one who claimed he would never fall away from following Jesus, but denied Him three times before the rooster crowed the next morning. When Peter refused to let Jesus wash his feet, Jesus gave him a choice – submit to the cleaning or have no part with Jesus. Peter responded with a counter offer. Clean his feet, his hands and his head.
Jesus reminded Peter that he had been washed but that just his feet were now dirty.
A lesson that when we have accepted Christ, we are cleansed and we are covered by His blood. Yet we must daily deal with our dirty feet – confessing our sins each day, asking God to help us make better choices, being honest and authentic with God as we seek to live like Jesus and become more like Him each day.
Foot washing prior to eating was a custom of their time and place. Either the host or the host’s servant would wash the feet of the guests. A simple act of kindness meant to clean and refresh weary travelers before they enjoyed a meal.
Jesus, the Savior of the world and God’s own Son, chose to wash His disciples’ feet as His last “official” act before His crucifixion. Knowing that His betrayal was imminent and that His hours on earth were few, Jesus chose to use this time to teach His disciples a tangible lesson on humility, service and love.
Maundy Thursday is a day to remember how Christ lived and to seek to live in the same way. Some churches have services in which they take Holy Communion, much like they did at the Last Supper, in rememberance of Jesus. And prior to this reverent and moving service, there may be an opportunity to wash one another’s feet, as Jesus instructed His disciples to do after He had washed their feet.
“So when He had washed their feet, and taken His garments and reclined at the table again, He said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? You call Me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am. If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you.”
Jn. 13:12-15, NASB
It is believed that the word “maundy” comes from John 13:34. Maundy is believed to be a variation of the Latin word for commandment or mandate (mandatum), which is what Jesus gave to the disciples after He had washed their feet and taught them to wash each other’s feet. Later, He commanded them to love one another, as He had loved them.
““A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Jn. 13:34-35, NASB
Before He died for them, Jesus gave the disciples one more Life Lesson. It was a lesson in service and humility.
It was a lesson in love.
The very first Fruit of the Spirit is love.
Depending on your Bible’s translation, the word “love” appears in the Bible anywhere from 300 to more than 500 times.
Perhaps the most well-known Bible verse is John 3:16, which tells us how much God loves us – and what He did because of His love for us.
““For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”
Jn. 3:16, NASB
And in John’s epistles, he encouraged us to love one another and reminded us that love comes from God and that our love is the evidence that we know Him and we are His children.
“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.”
1 Jn. 4:7, NASB
This week, we will study love, the first of the fruits of the Spirit that Paul wrote about in Galatians 5:22-23. Perhaps love is the first spiritual fruit listed by Paul because every other fruit of the Holy Spirit must flow out of our love for God and others.
When Jesus was tested by one of the Pharisees who asked Him what the greatest commandment of the Law was, He taught that it was to love God with all your heart, soul and mind. He then instructed them that they also should love their neighbor as themselves.
“But when the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered themselves together. One of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”” (Matt. 22:34-40, NASB)
Love God. Love your Neighbor.
It is as simple and as difficult as that.
And the only way that we can hope to be able to love God and love our neighbor is by walking with God, talking with God, seeking Him, praying to Him, studying His Word and seeking to live as Jesus lived.
All of the other fruits of the Holy Spirit – joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control – they all flow out of love.
If we don’t have love in our hearts, we cannot be joyful, we will not have peace, it will be difficult to be kind, our faith will be tested and found wanting, we will not be able to be gentle and we won’t have self-control because we will act not out of love but out of greed, selfishness, gluttony and impulse.
A life following God and Jesus begins with love.
It begins with accepting the love He gave us when He gave us Jesus – and it continues in loving Him and loving our neighbors each and every day.
It means washing the feet of others – sometimes literally, but more often in a figurative sense of serving others, putting others before you, humbling ourselves for each other, giving selflessly, seeking to bless and help each other.
We need to lean on each other. Help each other back up. Encourage each other.
We must be in fellowship with each other, strengthening and supporting each other.
Being there for each other when hardships, trials and even disasters enter our lives.
In other words, we need to love each other.
In John 13:35, Jesus said that the world would know that we are His disciples by our love for each other and others.
And in Matthew 25:31-46, Jesus used a story about the suffering, the least and the neediest among us to show that when we love and care for others, it as though we are loving and caring for Him.
“The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’” (Matt. 25:40, NASB)
And the converse is that when we don’t care for each other and we don’t help someone we see in need, then it is as though we are rejecting Jesus and refusing to care for Him.
“Then He will answer them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ “ (Matt. 25:45, NASB)
Today, let us commit ourselves to being washers of feet. Both literal and figurative.
Let us care for the people in our lives – those we know and love as well as those we meet for the first and perhaps only time in this life, and let us ask God each day to place us in the path of those who need to know and see and feel His love.
Washing feet is dirty work. We will most certainly get our hands dirty as we wash the feet of others.
It is messy, tiring, and at times it will try and test us.
Will we wash their feet? Would God ask us to clean even the feet of our enemy, opponent or adversary?
And yet in the process, we will find cleansing and healing ourselves as we wash the feet of our brothers and sisters. For you simply cannot wash another’s feet without the warm sudsy water cascading also on you, cleansing and refining you.
As you wash the feet of another, perhaps it may even remind you of the sacrament of baptism – a time when we choose to publicly proclaim our faith in Christ and tell the world that we have chosen to die to sin. Whether the water is placed on your head or if you are plunged beneath its surface, it is a tangible symbol of newness of life, of sin washed away, of Jesus’s payment for our sins, that we are given new life – and that we have chosen to receive new life, cleansed by His blood, dead to sin, alive in Christ!
-all glory to God-
Jesus commanded us to do for others as He had done for us. We are to be His hands and feet – which means using our hands and feet to show His love to a lost and hurting world.
The last lesson Jesus offered to His disciples before He died for our sins was an object lesson of love. He humbled Himself as a servant, just as was prophesied by Isaiah hundreds of years before His birth.
“But the Lord was pleased
To crush Him, putting Him to grief;
If He would render Himself as a guilt offering,
He will see His offspring,
He will prolong His days,
And the good pleasure of the Lord will prosper in His hand.
As a result of the anguish of His soul,
He will see it and be satisfied;
By His knowledge the Righteous One,
My Servant, will justify the many,
As He will bear their iniquities.”
(Is. 53:10-11, NASB)
By God’s grace, mercy and love, we are redeemed, ransomed and reconciled by the love and obedience of His Son and our Savior Jesus Christ.
By Jesus’s offering of His body on Calvary’s hill as the payment for our sins, we know peace and forgiveness, right-standing with God.
And by Christ’s resurrection, we know the promise and hope of eternity with God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
God has called us to love Him and to love others.
It is both refreshingly simple and exceedingly difficult.
If we walk with Him and talk with Him, He will show us how to love Him and to love each other, just as He showed His love to us in saving us by giving us His Son to redeem us and return us to Him.
“He has told you, O man, what is good;
And what does the Lord require of you
But to do justice, to love kindness,
And to walk humbly with your God?”
(Mic. 6:8, NASB)
Knowing that His hours on earth as a man were numbered and that He would soon conquer sin and death for all mankind, Jesus chose to teach His disciples one last lesson.
It was a lesson in love, which is a lesson we all can use, especially in today’s often loveless times.
It was a lesson in love as an action verb, not love as a theoretical concept or wishful ideal.
And so today, let us choose to wash each other’s feet.
Let us love God.
Let us choose to love each other.
And let us love the world like God and Jesus love the world.
Completely, Totally, Selflessly and Unapologetically.
Now more than ever, what the world needs is love.
- Why do you think Jesus called us to be washers of feet? What is it about washing another’s feet that might make us reluctant to do so?
- What are some figurative ways we can wash feet? What are some ways to serve that may be difficult and challenging – but which God calls us to?
- Has there been someone in your life who has shown love to you , perhaps who served you when you were in need and who gave you hope and kindness? Give thanks today for that person and, if possible, thank them for the difference they made in your life.
- God calls us to have fellowship with Him and with each other. Briefly, describe what your fellowship life is like right now with God and with others. Do you have a church home? If so, do you have a fellowship, small group, Sunday school or Bible study that you are able to participate in regularly? If you aren’t attending a church regularly, could you begin to research and visit churches in your area? If you do have a church home but aren’t involved in a fellowship group right now, could you make it a goal in the weeks ahead to visit different Sunday school classes and/or small groups? Is there a Bible study that you could join? Write in the area below about your current fellowship life and also about any hopes or goals to strengthen your walk and fellowship with God and others.
Do you have a fellow Christ-follower that you talk with regularly to encourage, support and help each other with the daily challenges of life? Someone that can hold you accountable and vice-versa? It might be a friend you email and talk with by phone regularly, possibly meeting for coffee or a meal on a monthly basis.
This should be a person of the same gender as you who is a Christ follower and who is able to relate to you in your walk of faith. For those who have recently accepted Christ, you will want to seek an accountability partner whose faith is seasoned and mature so that they can disciple and encourage you. Your church will likely be able to help you find a fellowship friend – you might call the men’s or women’s leadership or your church’s small group pastor.
For those who have been walking with Christ for some time, you might choose to both disciple someone newer in their faith and also have an accountability partner who is also mature in their faith so that you can strengthen each other in your spiritual walk.
- Can you wash the feet of someone in your life today? It might be the feet of your spouse or your children. If possible, wash their feet one day this week and pray for them and ask God’s blessings on your loved one.
- This week, we are going to talk about how to love and serve those in need, especially after disaster has entered their lives. Sometimes, that may be a natural disaster like a hurricane or wildfire. At other times, those disasters can be health crises, financial hardships or other types of challenges. If you feel led to do so, ask God if there is a place in your community where you can wash the feet of people in need. Throughout this week, we will think and talk and consider what it means to love others and to wash their feet, as Jesus commanded us to. As you pray this week, ask God to show you places where He may be calling you.
- Please be in prayer for the victims of last year’s hurricanes, wildfires and flooding in Texas, Puerto Rico, the Caribbean, Florida and California. Even though months have passed since these disasters, many people in these places continue to struggle as they seek to rebuild their homes, neighborhoods and lives. This week we will be talking about people who have been “washing feet” by coming alongside the survivors in these places to be Christ’s hands and feet and to show them love, compassion, generosity and kindness. We will talk about how we can pray for, support and encourage those serving and ministering to others as washers of feet as well as how we each can come alongside those enduring hardships in these areas as well as throughout our communities and all over the world so we can share very tangible and real examples of God’s love for them.
- This week, consider enjoying something made with strawberries. As you select them from the produce section, pray for the people who picked the strawberries and the farms where those strawberries grew. Many strawberries are grown in California and Texas, places that were devastated last year by fires, flooding and hurricanes. Be in prayer for the people affected by these natural disasters and for those who are ministering to them as they begin the difficult and lengthy process of rebuilding their lives. Pray for the people in our prayer focus this week as well as those throughout the world enduring hardships, trials and disasters. Ask God to show you how you can be love to these people – and then be obedient as He leads you to serve, love and bless someone in need this week – perhaps someone in our prayer focus area or in another region of the world.
Heavenly Father, thank You for loving us. Thank you for coming down to earth to rescue us. Thank You for demonstrating love to us so that we can love each other as You love us.
Lord, washing feet is not easy. We often feel ill-prepared for the task and at times when we are honest with ourselves and You, we may not even want to wash another’s feet.
This world has grown cold and seems to grow colder and more loveless with each passing day. There are some among us who call themselves followers of Christ, but they live lives of anger, hate and fear-mongering.
Yet each day, we must choose love. We must choose to follow Jesus and choose to follow His example and commandment – a life of love.
We long to serve and love You and each other as You call us to, but all too often, we don’t know where to begin. Our problems are so big, our challenges so great and our lives so busy and complicated that we may feel overwhelmed and underprepared.
Some days, we may strive just for our voices to be heard above the cacophony of cynicism, contempt and judgment that surrounds us.
Our world is increasingly disconnected relationally, even as we are connected ever more technologically. People rant and rave and yell and attack each other virtually yet more than ever, people are needing and wanting real connections, encouragement, hope and love.
Lord, let us be the love that this world needs. God, help us to shine Your bright light in this dark place.
Where others sow hate, help us to plant love.
When some choose anger, help us to choose love.
When the world ridicules and mocks and rejects us as the world mocked Your Son, help us to choose love.
When we are condemned for our faith, help us to choose love.
When some try to bait and lure us into a heated argument or debate about You, help us to choose love.
Where the world declares it is too late or that a person is too far gone, help us to show the world that it is never too late for love and that no one is ever too far gone to be saved.
God, we want to be Your hands and feet in this world. We want to do Your will, to fulfill Your Great Commission and to live out Your commandment that we wash each other’s feet, just as Your Son washed the feet of the disciples as He prepared to give His life as the payment for our sins.
Strengthen our hands that we may wash each other’s feet – that we may serve, encourage, help, nurture, sustain and love each other. Help us to be each other’s keeper, to be friends to one another, brothers and sisters in Christ, the face of Jesus, the embodiment of love to a world so desperately needing and wanting love – whether or not they would dare admit such a need or want.
Help us to be humble and merciful, not boasting of our salvation and faith but remembering that we once were lost too, just as so many still are. Grant us that we might have wisdom and kindness to share with those You place in our paths today, this week and throughout our lives. Help us never to be arrogant or superior as we share our faith, but help us to point the hurting, the lost, the needy to You – as we love them as You love us.
Protect us as we share Your love. Make us wise as serpents yet innocent as doves, knowing that some would try to take advantage of love and even try to harm those who are loving and gracious. Help us to make wise choices in those we interact with, knowing that evil is present in this world and that we must be wise even as we are loving.
Help our hearts to remain tender in spite of the hate and anger that surrounds us. Where others seek to hurt and tear down, help us to heal and build up.
Lord, use us, guide us and direct us to where You call us.
Help us to be obedient to go where You call us, to follow where You lead us and to love as You love us.
We pray for the lost today – for those who need You and those who don’t yet know You and for those who have rejected You.
Let us be Your hands and feet and let us be washers of feet.
Your Word teaches us that of faith, hope and love – the greatest of these is love.
So Lord, we pray that You would help us to love and that You would soften our hearts to love each other and others, that You would show us those desperately in need of love and that we would be faithful to love and care for the least and neediest and the suffering among us.
Open our eyes, Lord, so that we might see this world as You see it. Help us to see people who need You, who need love.
And then we pray that You would strengthen our hands and our hearts so that we would be willing to wash dirty feet, remembering that our Savior went to the cross and died for our sins, paying a debt He didn’t owe, a debt that we couldn’t pay, so that we could be redeemed and reconciled to You, O God.
Lord, help us to wash each other’s feet and to love each other as You have called us. Let us be love to this world, and let that love be a sweet fragrant offering to You. We pray that the warm and welcoming scent of love would draw the lost to You, to the One who loves us so much that You gave Your Son for us.
God, let our lives be a love letter to You, even as Your Word is a love letter to us.
Thank You for Jesus, God. Thank You for Easter. And thank You for Your life-giving, life-saving love. Help us to tell the world about You and to tell them how very much You love the world.
In Christ’s name we pray,
“Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.”