Refreshing Foot Washing Gifting
What is more important? – filling a gap by serving on the churches programme or fulfilling a God-given gifting?
This Easter I was asked what does Maundy Thursday mean and I didn’t have a clue! I knew that it was remembering when Jesus washed the feet of the disciples and that was about it. But what I was being asked was what did the word Maundy mean?
The Revolutionary Command
It comes from the word ‘command’ which relates to what Jesus said to His disciples after he had washed their feet. “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. John 13:34 New Living Translation.’ There is something revolutionary here. Jesus is about to lay His life down as a sacrifice for the sins of the world and His ‘command’ to His disciples is ‘from now on guys you are to love each other in the way I have been loving you’ This is love in a new dimension.
I noticed that one colleague was going to bring a bowl, a towel and a jug to a service. They were going to do the whole foot washing business. Should I do that or should I explain the meaning behind this powerful gesture? One guy had already said, ‘I can’t bear to have my feet touched!’ Jesus was making a point and establishing a precedent and not showing them how to wash one another’s feet. Some of us can breathe sigh of relief!
A Thrilling Faith-Grace Adventure
How do I possibly fulfil this new command? This does not need to be daunting but can be a thrilling adventure. You see, God has given to each of His reborn children a commission and gifting which allows us to fulfil this new command. The commission is to do what Jesus did – ‘As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.’ (John 20:21) The gifting is to discover and contribute what the Holy Spirit has given. Jesus gives His disciples a clear instruction and then the means to fulfil it. ‘Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good’ (1 Corinthians 12:7). Gifting given which washes feet.
There is not a short supply because God has already given all that is needed. There is just the right amount of grace and faith given to each of us to function comfortably in our gifting. ‘to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift’ (Ephesians 4:7) WOW! Grace is on each one of us in proportion to the measure of Christ’s gift to us. And the right amount of faith too! ‘For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you’ (Romans 12:3) We already have the right amount of faith and grace we need.
Right Gifting which Fully Loves is Fully Refreshing
But how do we find what our true gifting is? We used to have an expression when our true gifting didn’t fit or wasn’t being expressed correctly. ‘A round peg in a square hole.’
We could be mis-gifting like a round peg in a square hole or we could be right-gifting so that the peg fits comfortably. We could be monopolise-gifting by trying to do everything and control everything or we could be equip-gifting to enable others. We could be lazy-gifting and withholding by sitting on our gift. We could be burn out gifting or harsh-gifting by going outside grace and faith. Sadly, we could be flesh-gifting so that it is from me, about me, and for me, instead of Spirit-gifting. Ideally, we could be harmony and refreshing-gifting by serving in our gifting with our measure of faith and grace. Now that truly washes feet, giving up status and position to be low in meeting the basic needs of others.
Thank God we are in a community of loving brothers and sisters where we can trial our gifting to discover what our gifting actual is. Area groups are ideal for this so that our mistakes are not so public. But hearts are big enough to absorb our mistakes and pastoral leadership is on hand to guide us so that our gifting can be confirmed. Let’s not put a label on someone because it’s a kind thing to do and makes us feel good. This is a big issue with powerful and crucial implications. We are talking here about God’s own gifts to God’s own people which, when applied, makes the Body of Jesus on earth function as He intended it to. Right gifting which fully loves is fully refreshing.
Christ’s Love Realised by Faith and Grace
An obvious question when we hear this command to love is, ‘Am I loving my brothers and sisters the way Jesus does?’ Challenging isn’t it? But the awesome wonder of this is, we have been given the grace and the faith by the Holy Spirit to do it. Like the disciples I need to remove any obstacles and be full of the Spirit and get on and do it. ‘Lord, let this river of supernatural life and love flow through me.’
One simple gesture – One straight command
The take to heart-action-point here is seeing Jesus fulfil the whole of His commission. He loved the whole of humanity with the love shared in the Triune Godhead. He did it practically by meeting the needs of the sick around Him, speaking out for those being judged and condemned and teaching the crowds and training His disciples. The whole of His ministry was captured in one simple gesture, washing feet. Jesus gives us this new commandment and He gives to us a vivid practical example of how to do it. By the power of the Spirit Jesus meets deep rooted needs. He washes away our ingrained sin so that the pure gold of His life and character shines through. He continues to do this through me.
Facilitating Refreshing Foot Washing Gifts
Of course, it’s great that someone fills a gap which could actually lead to discovering a God given gifting. But it is not about doing our bit for the church. We are told that ‘to each one .. is given..’ (1 Corinthians 12:7 ) It would be a crying shame if parts of our own body could not function. Actually it could be disastrous. Are we contributing our God-given gift so that the local Body of Jesus is healthy and functioning well? Do we need to sit together and discuss what is hindering us and what will facilitate refreshing foot washing gifting?
I ask myself, ‘Are these bible verses we have considered true?’ Yes, they are. Then there is enough grace and faith for me to function within but not outside my God-given gifting. Amen?
Written by Robert Lightowler