Everyone will know that you are my followers, if you love one another.” ~ John 13:35
For the Christian church, we are in the midst of the Lenten Season, the weeks before Easter where we remind ourselves of what Jesus did for us as He went to the cross, suffered, died and resurrected.
One of the most compelling stories for me is what Jesus did right before He was arrested. He was eating supper with his closest friends and without warning, He began to do something that both shocked and confused them — He washed their feet.
We are not accustomed to this act of service, but for them it was a common practice. The roads were dusty and typically the lowest of servants would wash the guest’s feet as they would enter the home.
Jesus wasn’t as much concerned about the condition of their dirty tootsies as He was interested in showing them what love looked like. He lowered Himself and lovingly washed away the grim, the dirt, and even the poop from their warn-out feet.
If this were not amazing enough, He even washed the feet of the one He knew was about to betray Him.
Even though Jesus knew the heart of Judas was insincere and full of betrayal, Jesus loved and served him with the same intensity as He did the others.
What an example, to treat someone who wrongs you with love and kindness!
When we are wronged, lied about or worse, our nature is to want to defend ourselves, take revenge, and make the other person suffer. But if we really want to represent Jesus in this world that seems to be full of selfishness and greed, we must follow in the footsteps of Jesus, even when everything within us wants to “get even.”
Years ago, while my husband and I were in Bible College, he worked part time for a company loading package trucks. It was easy enough work and the pay was good, but to be honest, most evening, he would have loved to have been doing anything but this.
One night, my mild-mannered, calm husband was furious. He paced back and forth and told me about an incident that took place that evening. A guy he worked with had cursed him out and ridiculed him in front of everyone for something he felt my husband did wrong. This man’s cocky and demeaning attitude was both hurtful and inappropriate, plus what he accused my husband of was not his fault.
The more Dan talked, the more upset he became. He began making plans on what he’d do to the guy the next day. After endless ideas, I encouraged him to take a shower and head to bed.
The next day before he left for work, I prayed for him to have a good day, and to not allow the guy to bother him. I watched from the window as he pulled out of the driveway secretly hoping he would not allow this bully to get the upper hand.
I hoped my husband would put this dude in his place. I could hardly wait to hear what took place.
My husband seemed to prance in the door that evening. I thought, “Good, he had a nice evening, let’s hear how he put things went down.”
Dan, starting talking before I could even ask. “Hon, you won’t believe what happened. I was so ready to tell this guy off, and suddenly, I felt like the Lord wanted me to...buy him a candy bar and apologize for upsetting him!” “WHAT?” I screamed. “Buy him a candy bar?”
“I know”, he continued. “It sounds crazy, but I couldn’t shake it. So, I went to the vending machine, bought a candy bar, went straight to him, handing it him, and told him I was sorry that my actions the day before upset him so much.”
I couldn’t believe my ears. This guy was such a bully and he bought him a candy bar?
“But it wasn’t your fault. Why did you apologize when he was the one who wronged you?”
Dan said, “Because that’s what Jesus would have done, right?”
The guy, looked at Dan when he held out the Milky Way, with the same look on his face that I now had on mine.
He sheepishly took it, and then stumbled over a few words of, “Thanks, yeah man, I’m sorry.”
And guess what? This mean, hateful bully quickly became the guy on the team who looked out for Dan, complimented him, and was softer with him, all because of that one gesture, that one act of service.
Oh, how much better things would be in our neighborhoods, offices, restaurants, and yes, churches, if we could remember the message of Christ? Even though He was falsely accused and even betrayed by His closest friends, He continued to love; He continued to serve.
My friends, it’s easy to take revenge. It doesn’t take a lot to curse back, get back, take back, and hurt back. But if we desire to represent Christ to others let’s love back, let’s serve back, let’s bring kindness back. We will know such incredible peace when we exchange hatred with love. And isn’t love what others really need?