Serving Others…. Are you a door or a doormat?
The truth is, it made me mad. Here I was in church, looking to be encouraged by the sermon. As the worship ended, our pastor stood up and made a statement I’ll never forget. You could have heard a pin drop in the huge auditorium. “Do you want to know how to improve the most difficult relationships in your life?” The crowd was on the edge of their seats. We were all leaning in to take detailed notes. Yes! Yes! We want to know how to improve the most difficult relationships in our lives! “Serve ‘em.”
Really? Is that it? Is that all? Please tell me there is more! That is not what I wanted to hear, likely the sentiment of the thousands of other people who filled the room. He went on to explain that Jesus washed the disciples’ feet at one of his darkest hours. There was a plot to kill him, and he knew his earthly time was coming to an end. Regardless of Jesus’ state-of-reality, this radical act of service demonstrated the full extent of his love for them. Jesus even said in John 13:14-15, “Now that I, your Lord and Teacher have washed your feet, you should also wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.”
Wow! Jesus didn’t say wash the feet of those worthy of foot washing. He didn’t say wash the feet of those who were in right standing with you. Nor did he say, “Wait until they deserve it.” There is little argument that serving someone quickly softens a situation where tension could otherwise erode relationships.
There were times in my life where, even though I was angry with someone, one kind act of service changed my attitude and quickly shifted me to a more compassionate position. Not because of the other party, but because in that moment I chose to obey Jesus. There is no better invitation for the hand of Jesus to intervene than when we choose to obey His Word.
There were also times when I ignored this life lesson and just let my anger have its say. Bitter words and ugly attitudes can quickly fester and bring about doubt and fear. Cold silence can be just as hurtful. It’s a tool of our enemy and can allow disobedience to wreak havoc and usher in often unnecessary suffering. Perfectly good relationships have ended over poor communication and misinterpreted feelings.
One of my most personal struggles is this very battle: serve or say. I’m a proponent of clear communication and dealing with what needs to be dealt with. There are frequently times when productive conversations are needed. To clarify and reach agreement with a kind approach is an effective way to strengthen a relationship. What I’m trying to articulate here is that we don’t become door mats, we become doors. Better relationships, based in truth and wisdom, are often born out of someone who humbled themselves in an effort to serve that relationship into health and often happiness.
Jesus sets the example. It’s up to us to choose. Will you serve others?