Updated: Nov 1, 2019
You never really realize how bad of a servant you are, until you are asked to speak at a ladies day about serving.
I read a quote the other day while preparing for my lesson that said, “If I knew how long I had to live, I would spend my last days eating all of my favorite foods and visiting all of my favorite places. Jesus knew his final day, and He washed feet.”
The moment I read a quote, is the moment I realized how selfish I am. If I had one day to live, I would eat all the queso and go to all my favorite places. Jesus… the savior of the earth…washed feet…
So after I read those words, I began reflecting on what it means to have a servant heart like Jesus, and this lesson was a result.
I began thinking about my history of serving… and I was a waitress for years, and you could call that service… And I am currently a nurse, you could call that service… But one situation that stuck out to me most, was an encounter I had about 6 years ago with serving.
It was when my mom died 6 years ago. You see, she did everything for our family. I mean everything, from loving us appropriately, to washing dishes, to laundry, to football, basketball, hanging on to important paperwork.
So on the day before she died, I told her, “Mom it is okay to let go, I will take care of (... my brother)... (sister...), and Dad.”
And when she let go, I felt a responsibility to live up to those words.
So When mom died, I asked my dad if could quit my job and help him with my brother and sister.
I told my dad I wanted to be there for the family and for about a year, he let me.
So I did…and I learned a lot of lessons about serving.
I got a taste of what it was like to wake up at 5am to take someone to football practice and to run to the store because someone forgot about project they had due. to do laundry for 3 people. 4 including myself.
At first, it was fine, I felt like I was living up to my promise. I felt like a good daughter and a good sister.
But it quickly became overwhelming. I really think my brother thought there was a laundry fairy gathered all his laundry, cleaned it, folded it, and put it in his room.
One day, I said to my brother, “can you please carry your clothes to your room.”
He said, sure sis, ill do it later.
A day went by, the clothes were still in the basket in the laundry room… I asked again.. Same response.
So, I decided to put the laundry basket in front of the stairs that led to his room, (I thought surely, he will see it and just carry it down)
He came home from school, dropped his backpack, stepped OVER the laundry basket and went to his room...
Ladies, you would have thought he committed murder or something with how upset I was! I picked up the laundry basket, stomped down the stairs and put it in his room and said,
“Why cant you just help me! I am not your servant.”
I think back to that time, and I am deeply grieved. Because my brother didn’t need someone nagging at him after he had just lost his mom… He didn’t need someone trying to fill her shoes… he needed someone to show him a Christ like heart… a Christ like service.
But all I can do is learn from my mistakes… And here is what I am learning:
I needed a spiritual heart assessment. ***This will be the first post of 3 posts I will write about my "spiritual heart assessment."***
It turns out, it wasn’t about the laundry basket, I was overwhelmed because my intentions and motivations for serving were not where they should have been.
I was serving so thatmy family would love me, not because God loved me. I was trying to fill my mom’s shoes, and most importantly, I wasn’t finding strength in God’s word when it came to serving, I was relying on my own power, and I ended up burnt out.
I needed a heart check and I found it in God’s word.
I want to take you to another place in scripture where I found my heart assessment.
and I will warn you that it might be a bit uncomfortable…But I ask that you enter this with an open heart and mind.
Our text today takes place In Luke 11. Let’s read vs 37-44. In case you do not have a Bible near you, here is what it says:
"And as He spoke, a certain Pharisee asked Him to dine with him. So He went in and sat down to eat. When the Pharisee saw it, he marveled that He had not first washed before dinner.
Then the Lord said to him, “Now you Pharisees make the outside of the cup and dish clean, but your inward part is full of [a]greed and wickedness.Foolish ones! Did not He who made the outside make the inside also? But rather give alms of [b]such things as you have; then indeed all things are clean to you.
“But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs, and pass by justice and the love of God. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone. Woe to you Pharisees! For you love the [c]best seats in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces. Woe to you, [d]scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like graves which are not seen, and the men who walk over them are not aware of them."
Woah… These words are harsh… But before you put up your defenses, let’s pull these verses apart and see if we can make some application.
So, we know a Pharisee was a religious leader of the people. They were very devoted to their faith and this Pharisee invites Jesus over to dine with Him. And He was surprised when Jesus didn’t wash his hands before dinner.
Now, if I am being honest, when I first read this, the germaphob in me screamed, Ewaaa… He didn’t wash His hands before he ate? But this was a different type of washing. This wasn’t a soap and water, getting the germs off type of washing.
Ancient Jews would have a pitcher or jar of water and you pour water down your fingers and down your arm and then you would do it again, down your arm and over the fingers. It was a ceremonial cleansing. About purity. There was a belief among the Jews that your physical cleanliness/purity, prepared the way for you to approach a Holy and pure God. They were super serious about this. They followed all kinds of different ceremonial practices.
So, Jesus walks into this lunch and he just skips that part. It’s like he was sending a very clear, nonverbal message. Oh Jews, you know that handwashing thing you do? Not so important…
I think He was sending a particular message…
The Pharisees were deeply devoted to God, passionate about the scriptures…deeply devoted to living right, prayer, and financial tithing. I mean they even tithed their herbs. Deeply devoted to all these things and deeply concerned about moral decline in their nation, but Jesus still had a bone to pick with them. They were missing something…
They needed a heart check.
Now, I think it’s helpful when we read the scriptures to ask, “okay, Where am I in this story?”
Hint: you’re probably not Jesus… Well, maybe you are, but generally, I am not.
As I read this story, I cant help but think the Pharisees are a lot like me… church people… people passionate about the scriptures and devoted to God, but maybe missing something.
If we put ourselves in this situation, It seems like This is a table of correction. A table where Jesus gives these Pharisees a heart assessment.
Jesus has harsh words for the Pharisees. The challenge is, are we willing sit and read and take correction too? Because it so much easier to read this story and think: wow those Pharisees were awful. But it is so much more helpful (and painful) to go, okay where do I do this in my life? Where do I act like the Pharisees in my life? If you are willing to do this, if you’re open to the fact that you might be missing it somewhere, it can be life changing and eye opening.
I think if we are willing to put ourselves in this situation, we can learn about a thing or two about our hearts and the type of service Jesus is after.
I believe Luke 11:37-44 can help us do a spiritual health assessment on our hearts when it comes to serving.
The first lesson I believe we can learn: Heart disease can be hidden from others, but it can never be hidden from God
You know, The scary thing about heart disease, is that you can look quite normal on the outside. Im a nurse and I take care of people in the hospital all the time who look perfectly fine, but inside, they are sick. Ive had people almost die on me even though they looked fine on the inside. Although they look fine on the outside, They could have a heart attack at any moment.
Spiritually speaking, the Pharisees, looked great on the outside, but Jesus dug deeper and it turns out, they were spiritually sick on the inside.
Let’s take a look, in verse 37, it says
“Now you Pharisees cleanse the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness!”
He says, you clean the outside, but on inside, you are full of greed and wickedness. The inside, does not match the outside…
Now, There’s a word Jesus used often when he talked to the Pharisees. And it was common in Greek and Roman theatre. During that time, actors and actresses would wear masks as they performed and there was a name for these people. He uses it in Matthew as well,
They were called: Hypocrites.” The Greek word for hypocrite means “actor.”
Its moments like this when we are tempted to think, “man these guys are the worst.” What a buncha hypocrites…
But what if we said, where do I do this in my life?
Can we take a moment and talk about the potential masks we may wear while serving? Or we wear to avoid serving?
The mask of young age: the one that says…“ill obey the gospel when I am older, ill clean my life up when im older… I want to have fun right now…”
The mask of Old age: the one that might say, “ive done my time, it is someone elses turn.”
The mask of “busyness: “I just don’t have time to serve in the church right now…“hearing the word they go on their way and they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life and their fruit does not mature.”
The mask of righteousness: Your christianity is based solely on church attendance... but your life doesn't look much different from the world...
The mask of family: Your family members have always been "Christian" so you're a christian... and never stopped to ask or ponder your beliefs. So your faith might be based on their faith, not your own. (Guilty)
The mask of serving… You might do a ton of things for the church, but inside you are resentful, jealous, and hateful because you feel people do not value you
On the outside, it’s a good show, but it doesn’t match in darkness on the inside...
I think we do this, we wear masks the same way the Pharisees do. And we try to mask our heart issues. Sometimes unintentionally…
If we can just keep up appearances, you know, wear our Sunday’s best and just show up on Sundays and Wednesdays, we can ride this Christian life out...
There’s just one problem. God doesn’t look at people the way we look at people. Luke 8:17 tells us, “For nothing is secret that will not be revealed, nor anything hidden that will not be known and come to light.”
Remember Samuel? And God tasked him with finding the next king. He’s looking at the men and asks God, who is it? Show me? And what does God say?
But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.”
People look at the outward appearances but the Lord looks at the heart. He looks right through us and into our hearts...
The outside often looks so good but the inside sometimes looks like greed, lust, pride and insecurity and failure to properly serve... And I think, if Jesus spoke to us... He might want to say,
“Let me in there...Take off that mask... Let me do some tough cleaning."
The Pharisees were really careful to maintain the appearance of righteousness but not the inner reality of it…
But Jesus doesn’t just want to change the outside.
Jesus wants to wash the dishes. The outside and the inside. Our heart disease can be changed. Transformed. He can transform our hearts, our thoughts, our motivations when we check our hearts, intentions, and actions with His word.
So the first lesson I learned from my heart check is that I needed to take my mask off and let him in. It was time to soak in His word and allow it to do some tough cleaning...