A servant’s heart (part 2)

Today’s message is a continuation of last week’s message, on a servant’s heart.

This is a message that God has placed in my heart, as we come to the end of year 2020, which has been really challenging for many, myself included. We continue from John 13.


13 Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour had come that He should depart from this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.

2 And [a]supper being ended, the devil having already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray Him, 3 Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going to God, 4 rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself.

5 After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded. 6 Then He came to Simon Peter. And Peter said to Him, “Lord, are You washing my feet?”7 Jesus answered and said to him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but you will know after this.”

8 Peter said to Him, “You shall never wash my feet!”

Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.”

9 Simon Peter said to Him, “Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head!”10 Jesus said to him, “He who is bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you.” 11 For He knew who would betray Him; therefore He said, “You are not all clean.”12 So when He had washed their feet, taken His garments, and sat down again, He said to them, “Do you [b]know what I have done to you? 13 You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am. 14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.

15 For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. 16 Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him. 17 If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.

The second important point about having a servant’s heart, is that it comes from sonship with God.Yes, a son or a daughter.

In the verses in John 13, and in fact throughout the 4 gospels, we see the disciples growing and maturing, not just emotionally, but also spiritually. There was a journey from just being followers, to recognizing their special relationship with Jesus. Peter, as evidence in the start of this passage, didn’t fully understand the meaning of servanthood.

And this is a very common misconception that can only be addressed through a constant, close relationship and walk with Jesus. When Jesus girded himself, bent down with the towel and prepared to wash Peter’s feet, Peter responded, “You shall never wash my feet!”

How many times have we served someone, with the expectation that that person will appreciate our service, and perhaps return in kind? Or how many times have we been served by someone, only to feel a little “pai seh” and obliged to return this favour in kind? It is a very “Chinese” or even “Asian” thing. I know I have been. However, having a servant’s heart entails that we need to get a few things right:

  1. Understand fully that we are the sons and daughters of God, that nothing we do can ever add or subtract from the finished work on the cross that Jesus did.
  2. Believe that God has given each and everyone of us the capacity to serve and love like He did for us.
  3. Use our gifts and fruits to serve and love others in the Kingdom, so that His name will be magnified and glorified.

When I was a young Christian, I didn’t fully understand the concept of “sonship”. I believed that I can serve and love people out of my sheer willpower and might.And boy, was I wrong.If you are in an occupation that deals with people (which is almost all occupations), you will inevitably come into disappointment. This is because all of us are fallen; and this fallen nature of Man will always disappoint and let down.

However, if we are connected to the source, which is the Holy Spirit and to God, we will never, ever run dry. The Holy Spirit is like rivers of living water, refreshing us and giving us the means to continue to love people, even though it may be really difficult to do so. In my 17 years as a Christian, I have been through many mountains and valleys. And I thank God that He has shown me the goodness of His heart, and He is never too early, or too late. God is always on time.

Most importantly, God wants you and I to know that we are all His sons and daughters. Wouldn’t you want the very best for your children? Do they have to do anything to deserve your love and showers of blessing upon them? Likewise, as a servant of God, we have to first recognize that we are His sons and daughters. It is essential that we first build a close relationship with Him, so that we will not burn out when we serve Him.

Serving God may be physically and emotionally draining at times, but like the handphone battery, if we plug into God, He will always refresh and recharge us, so that we can find great joy and happiness even when serving Him.

If you are reading this, and are feeling burnt out either in ministry or in your work, I have a short prayer for you:

Dear Heavenly Father,

Thank you for loving us as Your sons and daughters. We know that it is not easy serving people sometimes, and people always disappoint. But God, You never let us down, nor let us go.

You are always there, walking beside us, carrying us when our legs are tired, protecting and providing for us.

I pray that You will refresh us with Your rivers of living water, that we may be filled again, and ready to serve and love the people you have placed in our lives.

I thank You from the bottom of my heart.

In Jesus’ name,

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