How often have you felt like maybe you aren’t doing enough? Every year, just before tax time, organisations roll out ads with wide-eyed underprivileged children. They ask for sponsorship’s and donations, inspiring guilt in your heart to drive you to action. No, this is not all charities, and yes we need to be a generous people. However, I want to suggest that fending off guilt should be just about the least motivating factor in the life of a Christian.
Has freedom from guilt ever been your motivating factor for serving others? Sometimes when it comes time to sign up for another year of ministry, it feels like you owe God your service to make up for the time you’ve spent on yourself. You find yourself taking on a ministry because it makes you feel good, relieves your guilt or gets you the affirmation of the people around you.
A Model for Ministry
Friends, there is a better way.
Chapter 13 of the Gospel of John tells a story about Jesus the night before he was crucified. He and his disciples were gathered in a room for supper and Jesus got up.
The Bible says, “He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him.” (John 13 vv 4-5)
Now, back in the time of Jesus, peoples’ feet would get very dirty from walking around in sandals all day in the dusty streets. Usually, it was the duty of the host to have someone clean the feet of an honoured guest. But here, Jesus, the King of Kings, washes the feet of his disciples. John records how Jesus explains this action.
“Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.” (John 13 vv 12-15)
The Gospel and Christian Ministry
The only motivation that will sustain us in ministry is that we have been served by Jesus. Because Jesus stepped into this world and washed away our sins, we have joy to humble ourselves and serve one another. Jesus says in Mark 10v45, “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Jesus set us an example of how we should serve our brothers and sisters, with love and humility.
The gospel frees us from guilt or obligation as a motivation for ministry. What a blessing it is to serve one another because Jesus first served us and laid down his life out his love for us! That kind of motivation will last an eternity.
Pastor Timon Bengtson with Frances Early