beauty of christ ... 2

The sandals of service

Jesus said "I am among you as one who serves." (Luke 22:27 NIV)  As was previously mentioned, the washing of the disciple's feet by Jesus demonstrated not only humility, but also the need to perform acts of service for others. Repeatedly in His teachings, in His relationships, and in His behavior, Jesus emphasized the importance of service. In fact, His primary goal, in living and dying, was to do a service for mankind. It is a basic principle of His Kingdom, that we can serve Him by helping each other. When the mother of James and John asked for a high place in His Kingdom, Jesus explained to her that things didn't work that way. He said "Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave; just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve." (Matthew 20:26-28 NIV)
If servants were like any piece of clothing, they would be sandals, and it could be said that the feet are the servants of the body. Being the lowest in elevation, they bear the weight of the body, but they are the foundation for standing and moving, essential for walking and running. Jesus, as an itinerant preacher, wandered the length and breadth of Palestine during His ministry. Most of the time He walked, so sandals would have been a vitally important part of His wardrobe. His sandals performed the service of protecting His feet from the heat of the road in the summer and from the rocks and thorns of the countryside. His sandals served Him well, just as He served others well.
While protecting the bottom of the feet, sandals can still leave some parts of the feet exposed to the elements, such as sun, dust, mud and insect bites. So too, service can lead to vulnerability. A servant is not always highly regarded nor well rewarded. Many people will avoid Christianity or view it with disdain, when they look at the inglorious plight of the cross of Jesus, not understanding what He was doing. Despite this, the call to servant-hood, is constant and clear; Jesus wants us to be the servants of Christian love. "I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you." (John 13:15-15 NIV) To follow in Jesus' footsteps, we need to know what is the nature of our Master's business, how to please Him and how not to displease Him, and apply ourselves to the roles we are most suited for, or called to. For instance, in His parable of the judgement of the nations, He commends those who have fed the the hungry, given water to the thirsty and clothed the naked, saying, "whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me." (Matthew 25:31-46 NIV) He is wanting us to care for the needy. After His resurrection He charges Peter with service to His flock: "Feed my lambs ... take care of my sheep ... feed my sheep." (John 21:15-17 NIV)
The Christian who desires to clothe himself with the industrious and servant-like nature of our Lord, will want to put off all manner of laziness and apathy, strap on the sandals of service, and walk the walk. The Lord gave us parables about servant-hood, to make sure we understand that the good and faithful servant is well regarded, but the one who is not contributing to the cause will be punished. Christians are to humbly accept the sandals of service, obey the Lord's commands, and perform His works of love with enthusiasm and responsibility, knowing that this is what pleases God.
Jill's self talk
"I will never forget that the simple act of helping is a beautiful thing. I will look for more ways to make a difference in the world by supporting those in need and doing good deeds."

The mantle of love and compassion

Jesus commanded His disciples to "Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." (John 13:34-35 NIV) This is such a beautiful commandment, if we view it the right way.
Behind every act of service there is a motive, but not all motives are godly. Sometimes we serve out of obligation or duty. This onerous kind of service is seldom performed freely or joyfully. It is often done with a sigh or grimace, a feeling of "why do I have to do this." If performed begrudgingly, it can even breed resentment and anger at the person or situation that requires it. Service for hire may be obligatory, too, but it is generally done only for compensation. A hired servant or service provider always expects something in return for the work, and is not willing or happy if nothing is received.
Another type of service can be performed in order to boost the servant's own self esteem. This servant gives solely to enrich his own need to feel superior over those needing help. In addition, this kind of service builds a feeling of power and control over others, forcing them into the servant's debt.
While the motives that drive man's acts of service can be complicated, the amazing thing about Jesus was that His service was given freely, and solely based on the motive of love and compassion. Being totally holy and spiritually pure, Jesus was not a slave to selfishness in any way; making Him free to love without condition. It is likely that Jesus' attitude to service was one of gladness that He could fill another person's need, and He was a cheerful giver. He didn't need to boost His own self-esteem; He expected no form of reward or compensation, recognition or gratitude. Good deeds done in secret will receive no thanks in return. Jesus gave His service freely simply out of His own sense of empathy and compassion. He wore His compassion like a cape or mantle about His shoulders, taking the problems of the people as His reasonable service and responsibility. It's said that we love God when we realise He loved us first.
Numerous examples of Jesus' compassion are found in the Gospels. He was moved with pity for the plight of an individual with leprosy, and demonstrated personal involvement  by touching him to heal him. This act of compassion overlooked the fact that lepers were considered unclean and untouchable. (Mark 1:41) On another occasion Jesus had compassion on a woman who was a widow. He restored her only son back to life. (Luke 7:12-15) In a separate incident, He did not condemn a woman caught in adultery, but prevented her from being stoned to death. (John 8:3-11) He not only showed concern for individuals, but also for crowds of people. All four gospels record His desire to feed the hungry crowds who had spent days following and listening to Him. (Mark 6:34-44) Jesus was not without emotion but was moved by it to act. He wept with His close friends at the tomb of their brother Lazarus, before bringing the dead man back to life after four days deceased. (John 11:33-34) He wept bitterly over Jerusalem, His beloved city, knowing that it would be destroyed by Rome in the near future. (Luke 19:41-44)
 Jesus openly exhibited His compassion for others as one would wear an "outer garment", which in His time was a short loose cape or mantle. Jewish leaders often wore the mantle around their shoulders as a symbol of their power and authority. Jesus, however, needed no such outer representation of power in order to be a helper. Quite humbly and resolutely He shouldered man's sins upon Himself through His deep compassion for our plight, because was God's will for Him to rescue us. In the parable He told of the prodigal son recorded in Luke 15, Jesus reveals the Father's deep, never-ending compassion for even the reckless son to come back to Him, and Jesus gave Himself to help that reconciliation process. The Apostle Paul urges believers to 'clothe yourself with compassion. "Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience." (Colossians 3:12 NIV) Those of us who would clothe ourselves with Christ would choose to wear the mantle of compassion.
Cultivating inwardly the precious qualities of Christ and expressing them outwardly through loving acts of service, is like taking on the very essence of Christ's nature, becoming Christ-like replicas that are equipped to do His work with His intentions and purposes in mind. The more we are "clothed" like Him, in compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; the more effective are our measures to make known His Gospel, and the stronger will be His influence on the world. It is impossible to become a soul of great beauty, or effectively serve the Gospel, without being moved to help others by the mantle of love and compassion.
Jill's self talk
"I am driven by compassion for those in need. Christ's love has become my love. His ways are now my ways. Without grumbling I will be patient, without expecting reward I will be kind, without condescending I will be gracious, without resentment I will be generous."

The prayer shawl of holiness

Jewish law required the men to wear a prayer shawl for prayers and worship, and often times, men wore their prayer shawls daily. Jesus would have had such a shawl, called a tallit. It's like a square poncho, complete with fringe, tassels and blue trim. The tallit symbolized the religious faith, and men were to wear it to remember God's laws and commandments. It represented the intention to be spiritual, and to be holy. It also signified the intention to communicate with God.
The meaning and significance of the word "holy" is sometimes difficult to grasp. Holiness denotes sacredness, a setting apart from all else to be pure, the absence of sinful thoughts and evil deeds. The word may also evoke the emotions of fear, awe and respect: if we regard holiness is not of Earth, but of Heaven. Another aspect of holiness is wholeness, for the two words come from the same root word. Holiness helps to define the integrity of a person, because holiness involves all aspects of of a person's being. No part of us is meant to be lacking. When Jesus recounted the greatest commandment; "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind"; (Luke 10:27 NIV) He involved all aspects of our humanity. In other words, we are to love God with our whole being, to the best of our abilities. This commandment of love calls for godliness, holiness and righteousness in every part of us, in the form of purity throughout, contributing to the concept of wholeness and integrity.
When Jesus came to earth, His spirit and soul were still fully holy and divine. Yet, at the same time, in His form as a man, He was wholly human. While Jesus possessed a divinely unique personality and character, and He was not lacking in any respect. The concept of a man also being God is mysterious; but God chose to show Himself in this unexpected way - personally. Jesus was holy as both man and God, whereas it is impossible for us to be holy on our own. There must be an involvement with God for our holiness to transpire. The sinful nature and temporary existence of man prevents holiness, but while it is impossible for man to be holy, it is possible to inherit the gift of  holiness when receiving the Holy Spirit. (Luke 18:27)
Jesus was able to live a perfectly holy life as a human on earth; despite the Devil's attempts to mislead Him. Because He remained steadfast to God's plan throughout His life, death and resurrection, He defeated sin and the works of the Devil in a way that only God could, and thereby is able to reconcile us to Himself. As a result, if we accept and believe in what Jesus did, we can receive this piece of clothing called a prayer shawl offered through Christ. We can stand before God as pure and holy "new-borns", able to approach God in prayer with the status of "forgiven", and move forward to live a righteous new life by the cleansing of sin through the Holy Spirit. The church, or the body of Christ, is made a spotless and radiant bride for Christ.
While God's gift of righteousness and holiness as a prayer shawl is offered freely, a person must want what it represents in order to wear it; in much the same way that putting on a military uniform signifies acceptance of the military code of conduct. Even as God on earth, Jesus did not take the prayer shawl lightly. As this symbolic piece of clothing required, He studied the Scriptures and Jewish law carefully and memorized it. The Gospels tell how He knew and understood those Scriptures. Even as a child He amazed the scholars in the temple in Jerusalem with His insight. (Luke 2:46-47) He studied and cited Scripture to rebuke and deny the Devil's temptations in the wilderness. (Matthew 4:1-10) He spoke and taught  the Scriptures. (Matthew 13:14-15) He rebuked the Pharisees with verses from Isaiah. (Matthew 15:7-9) It may be that the Scriptures were so deeply ingrained in His being that He quoted part of Psalm 22 even on the cross. (Mark 15:34)
During His ministry, Jesus constantly moved from location to location, teaching the crowds here and there, healing the sick and training His disciples. Nevertheless, He also needed to withdraw from all the activity to pray. Prayer formed an integral and effective part of Jesus' private life. Before starting the ministry, He stayed forty days in the wilderness, praying and also fasting. (Matthew 4:1-2) Often, after teaching, He would go off alone to pray. (Matthew 14:23) He prayed for His disciples and followers at the Last Supper. (John 17:20) He prayed earnestly in the Garden of Gethsemane, and also told His disciples to pray. (Luke 22:39-41) God wants to hear from us as much as we need to honor His brilliance and beseech His support.
As a man, Jesus modeled the perfect, holy life. He studied the Law and the Scriptures,  fasted and prayed, and obeyed God's will. Jesus really needed no material prayer shawl to represent His spiritual nature, but as a follower of Jewish customs, He would have worn one. Following His example, let every believer adorn himself with the well-fitting holiness that new life in Jesus brings, and pray in earnest for its fruition.
Jill's self talk
"I give the solemn pledge to make purity and goodness a hallmark of my life. May all aspects of my life, physical, mental, emotional and spiritual, be set apart in purity and goodness, in honor of the Lord who made me, and called me to be holy."
SHARE Your feedback
We love to receive your comments and suggestions on this topic, via the 'Contact' page. In particular, what personal self talk, declarations and affirmations, would you like to share with us and our members.