A Freedom Invitation
But Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave.
I'm going to be forty years old at the end of this month. We have a trip planned to Taos, New Mexico, and I am so excited. We have never been there before and there is nothing more fun to this adventurer at heart than exploring a new place with the people I love most in this world.
But God issued me an even more exciting birthday invitation.
On a day I took off to intentionally seek Him, the invitation was whispered into my spirit.
I have something for you. I know you've spent the last 40 years trying to prove that you measure up because they told you you didn't. But you know better now. It's time to spend the next part of your life serving in love for Me.
With a mix of awe and fear, all I could do is nod in agreement.
God has spent the past few years healing my heart from the wounds that told me I was not good enough. He has shown me how valuable I am to Him and how much He both loves and likes me. But more recently, He has opened my eyes to all the ways I try and prove myself worthy. And He's highlighted for me just how tyrannical and destructive this proving mission has been in my life.
It is easy to see now that trying to prove myself worthy is what keeps me ever striving and never measuring up.
So even though this invitation was a call to a heart change and turn to go another way repentance, it was laced with freedom, not shame.
Truly the Son has set me free, and I am free indeed. Free to stop proving and start serving.
Seeing the Belief:
Due to believing that I was not good enough as a child and young adult, I went on a "proving myself" mission. I so desperately wanted to prove myself good, worthy, and acceptable. Living in a performance-based culture only drives this behavior. But God has been healing the wounds that caused me to believe I wasn't good enough in the first place. And as I have believed Him that I am worthy and acceptable, so much so that He died for me, I have started to see how often I am trying to prove myself worthy. I have also recognized that this mission causes much strife and disappointment.
What circumstances in your life made you believe you were not good enough?
Do you see any 'proving myself' behaviors in your motives?
Drink From the Well:
Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, you have no obligation to do what your sinful nature urges you to do. For if you live by its dictates, you will die. But if through the power of the Spirit you put to death the deeds of your sinful nature, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God.
So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.” For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children. And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering.
But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God.
When you believe Jesus is the Son of God who came to earth to die for your sins, you are adopted into God's family. You become a child of God! You get the Holy Spirit living inside of you to guide you into God's ways. Paul writes that now as Children of God, led by the Spirit we no longer have to be fearful slaves. For me, I was a fearful slave to trying to prove myself worthy all the time. It was a tyrannical slave master that constantly had me striving and never measuring up. But when I realized that I am a beloved child of God, who is already proven (see Romans 8:1-3), and that God loved me so much that it was always His plan to rescue me and make me His child (See Ephesians 1:4-6), I could lay down the need to prove and start serving God instead.
What does Jesus coming to earth to die for our sins so we could be adopted into the family of God tell us about God's heart for us?
Read Ephesians 1:3-14 and ask God to help you truly believe you are loved and worthy with nothing else to prove because Jesus has already died for you.
Jesus Washes His Disciple's Feet - John 13:1-17
It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.
The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.
He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”
Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”
“No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.”
Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”
“Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!”
Jesus answered, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.” For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean.
When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. 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. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.
In the time and place where Jesus lived as a human people's feet were dirty. They lived in a dusty place and wore sandals on their feet. So foot washing was a common practice. But it was common for slaves to do, not high-ranking people. So when Jesus bends down to wash His disciple's feet, He is lowering Himself to serve as a slave to show them an important truth about God and His Kingdom. Luke recounts Jesus's last words about this at the last supper in association with the bread and the wine where Jesus taught His disciples the practice of remembrance. Read Luke 22:7-27.
Jesus is the perfect representation of God and He came to die for us but also to show us who God is and how God's Kingdom works. What do we learn about God's heart and Kingdom values from Jesus's action of washing His disciple's feet?
How does Jesus serving us to the point of death make you feel? Do you want to say anything to Jesus about it?
From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.
Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!”
Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”
After many miracles witnessed and months of following Him, Jesus starts to reveal what He will do on the cross for humankind. Peter has a hard time understanding what Jesus must go through. Could this be because he was taught by his culture that greatness means power and the ability to avoid suffering?
Jesus rebukes Peter's rebuke and with what could seem like harsh words, but they are so needed. He tells Peter that he has only human concerns instead of concern for God. Mark also records this story. Listen to how the NET translation puts it:
But after turning and looking at his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan. You are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but on man’s.”
I have so often found that when I am seeking to prove myself, I set my mind on man's interests, rather than God's interests. But this has never brought peace and good into my life. Think back to a time when you have done this. How has man's interests proven to be bad for you even if they seemed easier at first?
Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self? Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.
I have often found my daily cross that I must carry is my wounded pride, insecurity, and desire for people to like me. There are days still when I have to take up this cross multiple times per day to follow Jesus.
What could be a cross you have to take up? What could that look like?
Break Up With the World:
But Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:25-28
A dispute also arose among them as to which of them was considered to be greatest. Jesus said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves. For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves. Luke 22:24-27
Jesus really calls us to break up with the world best in these verses above. He calls us to see the way of the world is to lord and flaunt authority. I am sure you know this just like He told His disciples that they did. I bet you have been on the side where the authority flaunted in your face was bad for you. So you know that the way the world views leadership and ranking above other people is not good.
With this knowledge in mind, Jesus calls His followers to be different. He is calling us to be different too. It is time to break up with the world's ways of proving oneself better and start serving like Jesus instead.
What could serving rather than proving look like in your day to day life?