Serve: Foot Washing

The Heart of a Servant

Kevin R. Airrington
July 9, 2010


MattheServe: Foot Washingw 25:31-46, “When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:
And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats:
And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.
Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?
When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?
Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:
For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink:
I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.
Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?
Then shall he answer them, saying, verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal. “


“I, Kevin Airrington, do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.”

Those are the words I spoke as I was being sworn into the United States Army, nearly 25 years ago. When I consider the heart of a servant my mind quickly goes to those that wear the uniform of these United States.

I could have entitled this sermon, “The Heart of a Warrior!” You will see as we journey through the pages of the Bible there is little difference in the hearts of servants and warriors. Two examples come to mind when I think of a servant, Jesus, our ultimate example of a servant and those that serve in the United States military. The world has a somewhat different idea of what a servant is.

Google reports over 51 million websites containing the word servant. Most of these sites deal will some outside force to “make” a servant. I am here to tell you today…the HEART of a SERVANT will come from deep within the heart.

Ephesians 6:6, “Not with eye service, as men pleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart;” The Message says it this way, “Don’t just do what you have to do to get by, but work heartily, as Christ’s servants doing what God wants you to do. And work with a smile on your face, always keeping in mind that no matter who happens to be giving the orders, you’re really serving God.”

1.      What is a Servant?

Ephesians 5:25, Tells us, “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;”— the perfect example of servant-leadership is . . . Christ

The world’s perspective

Often times we confuse the servant hood with the world’s concept of it. The world’s concept of a servant is that a servant goes to the master and says, “Master, what do you want me to do?” The master tells him, and the servant goes off to do what he is told.
To the world, servant hood means, means the master has a position of authority. It means the master lords over the servant. In this world, these positions of authority are eagerly sought and jealously guarded.

The Biblical Perspective

In Job 1:8, God is showing off His servant Job like he is a huge bowling trophy. “And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?”

  • God is so incredibly proud of His servants.
  • It is interesting how God directly calls Job His servant…again, as if God is proud of this fact. He didn’t say, “Have you considered this fella named Job?”
  • A whole sermon could be preached from Job 1:8 on the love God has for His faithful servants.
    • The Biblical concept is more like the Parable of the Potter and the Clay –
      Jeremiah 18:1-6. Be moldable and remain in the Master’s hand.
      Jeremiah 18:6” O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? saith the LORD. Behold, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are ye in mine hand, O house of Israel!”
    • The clay has to be molded. The clay must yield to the potter so the potter can make an instrument of his choosing.
    • The clay must remain in the potter’s hand. When the potter has finished making the instrument of his choosing that instrument has no ability to do anything whatsoever. It must remain in the potter’s hand.
    • Example of a cup. A cup has to remain in the potter’s hand so that he can use it in any manner he chooses.

Our text gives us an example of what a servant is and what a servant is not.

  • We see the great dividing of the sheep and the goats.
  • There is a reward in GLORY for those that faithfully serve.
  • Likewise, there is an eternal punishment for those who do not serve.

Two great examples of a servant’s heart:

Illustration – A large group of European pastors came to one of D. L. Moody’s Northfield Bible Conferences in Massachusetts in the late 1800s. Following the European custom of the time, each guest put his shoes outside his room to be cleaned by the hall servants overnight. But of course this was America and there were no hall servants.
Walking the dormitory halls that night, Moody saw the shoes and determined not to embarrass his brothers. He mentioned the need to some ministerial students who were there, but met with only silence or pious excuses. Moody returned to the dorm, gathered up the shoes, and, alone in his room, the world’s only famous evangelist began to clean and polish the shoes. Only the unexpected arrival of a friend in the midst of the work revealed the secret.
When the foreign visitors opened their doors the next morning, their shoes were shined. They never know by whom. Moody told no one, but his friend told a few people, and during the rest of the conference, different men volunteered to shine the shoes in secret. Perhaps the episode is a vital insight into why God used D. L. Moody as He did. He was a man with a servant’s heart and that was the basis of his true greatness.

Illustration – Pat Riley, the NBA coach, wrote about what he called the danger of me in the book he authored, The Winner Within. He talked about how it’s easy whether it’s in basketball or in other aspects of life to become selfish in a team environment. He wrote, “This is who I am and I’m going to open myself up and give myself to you.” That’s exactly what you’ve got to do. Here’s what he says, “You must give up something in the immediate present – comfort, ease, recognition, quick rewards- to attract even something better in the future.”
If we can grasp these two examples of servant hood, I am convinced God will say to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Bob or Lisa or Tom or Jerry or Donna.” Would it to God that everyone one of would grasp an attitude of servant hood. The ultimate reward is to hear these words found in Matthew 25:21, “… Well done, thou good and faithful servant…enter thou into the joy of thy lord.”



2.      In Jesus Christ we see the marks of the servant.

The Greek word ‘doulos’ is translated in the New Testament both as ’slave’ and as ’servant.’ The words have a similar meaning. Jesus came as a servant, as a slave. He was the servant of the Lord. We are called to be servants of the Lord.

  1. a.      Jesus led by action:
    1. When decisive action was needed, Jesus acted. When the Temple was despoiled by manipulative, unscrupulous commercial interests, Jesus overturned the money changers’ tables (Matthew 21:12)
    2. When the howling wind and raging sea threatened to overturn the boat, Jesus cried out, “Peace be still” (Mark 4:39) and a great calm came upon the sea.
    3. Jesus in an act of selfless servant hood washed the disciple’s feet. (John 13:1-17) v.14, 15, “If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example that ye should do as I have done to you.”
    4. Jesus’ definition of leadership was a humble service to others,
      just as He came to serve others by giving up His life as a ransom
      for many.
    5. The most selfless act that any human or God could do for others was to be beaten to a bloody pulp and then nailed to a cross to hang for hours, with each agonizing breath he spoke seven last words.
  • He had no inheritance to give, His very clothes were being gambled for at His feet, He gave the one thing…the one thing He had an abundance of…His love.
  • Philippians 2:5-8, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”
  1. Christ’s heart was a heart of a servant from the very beginning. He led by example after example. The final example was the sacrifice of His life and ending with these words, “It is finished!” Mark 10:45, “For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.”


3.      What is expected of a servant?Matthew 23:11, “But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant.”
The greatest need in the world today is for the Church to follow the example of her Lord and Master and serve the nations of the world better than anyone else. The ultimate key to leadership is the full manifestation of servant hood.

  • Having a servant’s heart isn’t optional. Rather, it’s mandatory for those who will live eternally in God’s Kingdom. So, understanding and developing a servant’s heart is a must.
  • Servant hood is not a state-of-mind or simply the desire to help others. It really comes down to daily laying down your life in service to God and to others.
  • Are you a follower of Christ? Then you are called to serve – not to be served. A follower of Christ will have a servant’s heart and live a servant’s life.
  • Perhaps the words of John the Baptist say it best; “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30). May it ever be so in our lives?

A servant must possess these qualities:

  • He must serve exclusively. In Deuteronomy 6:13-14, God lays down the first simple rule of servant hood, “You shall fear only the Lord your God; and you shall serve Him and swear by His name. You shall not follow other gods, any of the other gods of the people who surround you.”
  • He must serve wholeheartedly. Paul instructs us in Ephesians 6:7 to “Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord and not men.”
  • He must serve outwardly. Finally, our service should not be limited to the walls of the church. 1 Peter 4:10 says, “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.”


4.      Conclusion

One of the most well known individuals recorded in the Old Testament was King David. His nickname, “a man after God’s own heart”. It all comes down to our heart. The heart of a warrior on the battlefield is one of sacrifice and commitment. Are you a man or woman after God’s own heart?
In Jesus’ perfect example of servant-leadership, we can see four important applications of Biblical principles that apply to Christian leaders.

  • A leader does not lord over others. He serves others selflessly.
  • A leader does not always insist on his rights. The rights of others are more important.
  • A leader is willing to sacrifice himself and his interests for the benefit of others.
  • A leader does all things out of love for God and for his neighbor. He will always seek what is best for others, regardless of the personal consequences.

Take inventory of your life. Who are you truly serving: God, others, or yourself? How can serve your family, your church, and also someone else in need this month – then do it!


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