“I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master.” – John 13:12
Jesus had less than 24 hours to live, and He knew it. He had precious little time left with His disciples—so, whatever He did, He was going to make it count. And what did He choose to do? In John 13, at the Passover meal, He washed His disciples’ dirty feet.
The disciples were stunned—and uncomfortable—as their leader and Savior knelt before them to wash 12 pairs of feet that walked on dirt roads, in sandals, everywhere they went. Peter even tried to stop Him until Jesus told him, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me” (v. 8). Jesus even washed the feet of Judas, although He knew Judas was about to betray Him into the hands of murderers.
Clearly, Jesus was sharing a spiritual truth here. But what IS that truth?
Jesus told them in verse 12: “Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master.” To follow Jesus Christ’s example, we must be humble. But how?
Let’s take a look at four principles of true humility. (Most of these principles are highlighted by Chuck Swindoll in his John commentary.)
Principle #1: Humility doesn’t discriminate but is expressed equally to all. Jesus knew that His disciples would all desert Him in a few hours. He knew Peter would deny Him three times. He knew Judas Iscariot would betray Him. Yet Jesus washed their feet anyway. Friends, there is no room for petty discrimination in your Christianity. Whether you like a person or can’t stand a person, whether they love you or hate you, humbly serve them anyway … just like Jesus.
Principle #2: Humility is an action and a behavior, not a thought or an attitude. Many people describe themselves as humble. But thinking you’re humble has nothing to do with humility. As soon as you announce, “I’m humble!” – you’re proving you’re not. Just as love is an action, not a thought or a feeling, so is humility.
Principle #3: Humility receives service without embarrassment. Sometimes the most prideful thing you can do is to NOT allow someone to serve you. Jesus was the most humble servant of all. But just five days before He washed His disciples’ feet, He allowed Mary to get down on her hands and knees and wipe His feet with her hair. Everyone in the room was embarrassed, except for Jesus—because He was gentle and humble in heart. Don’t just humbly serve others. Check your ego at the door and allow others to humbly serve you.
Principle #4: Humility leads to true and lasting joy. Did you know that the nearer you are to suffering people, the nearer you are to Jesus? Jesus identifies with the poor, the sick, the abused, and the outcast. So, the more we humbly serve them, the closer we are to Christ. Most people think that happiness comes from earning more money or taking more vacations. But the truth is, if we chase after happiness, we tend to miss out on it. Why? Because God had linked happiness to humble service.
Wiersbe says it so well: “Be sure to keep these lessons in their proper
sequence: humbleness, holiness, happiness. Submit to the Father, keep your life
clean, and serve others. This is God’s formula for true spiritual joy.”
Dane Davis is the pastor of Impact Christian
Dane’s new daily devotional, “40 Days in Proverbs,” is now available on
us on Sunday at 8:30 a.m. or 10 a.m. at