What is a True Servant?

Mar 02, 2009 12:26 PM EST


Author: Louis Lee, General Director/Founder, Ministries for English Speaking Asians, Elk Grove

12 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. 13 “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16 I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them. (John 13:12-17, NIV)

Jesus helps us get beyond mere words to the reality of being a true servant. It begins by embracing our identity in our relationship with God (13:3). We are created and redeemed by God. Our ultimate purpose is to honor and glorify Him. This eternal perspective frees us from clinging to earthly status to serve others in genuine humility and love. Jesus provides a clear and practical example (13:15) of how a servant serves. Jesus washed the feet of his disciples (13:4-5). Foot washing was a common, practical act of service since the roads were dusty. Sandals were removed and feet were washed, generally by servants. Servants of today must serve in a culturally relevant and practical manner. Jesus connected spiritual blessing with his practical service of washing the feet of his disciples (13:6-11). Jesus connected spiritual cleansing with physical washing. Some are so heavenly minded they are of no earthly good, others so earthly minded they are of no heavenly good. It’s not an “either-or” choice, but a “both-and.” God’s servants address both the earthly and heavenly needs of people.

I cut my neighbor’s front lawn because he has four young children plus a long commute to work. I told him it would be my joy to see him invest 20 more minutes each week with his kids rather than with his lawn care. I told them I serve their needs as an expression of God’s love for them. My neighbors are being drawn closer to our Father’s heart. We will experience blessing when we both know and do practical acts of service that bless others (13:17). “Father, help me be more of a servant like Jesus. Help me respond to the needs of people as Jesus would for your glory. In the name of Jesus I pray. Amen.”


The ISAAC 2009 Lenten Devotional, edited by Rev. Dr. Johnson Chiu. This devotional was written by Asian American English ministry leaders and pastors in the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond. To purchase, click here: Road of Suffering, Road to Glory: A Lenten Adventure with the Savior