Even in the Down-and-Dirty
“I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.” John 13:15
I didn’t want to help my daughter clean her bedroom. Evidence of girl-gone-berserk must have saturated every square inch, with hot pink blush crunched into the carpet, along with glitter, doll clothes, caked-in puffy slime, and miniature beads. “This is not my responsibility,” I wanted to bark in my best no-nonsense mom voice.
But then I looked at her and my heart tumbled to see her kneeling, forlorn and certainly overwhelmed, in the center of the chaos. Yes, it was her responsibility, but compassion reminded me I’d been her age once, too, and gotten carried away hosting a sleepover party. I helped her clean her room, and she was beyond grateful. One day, I’m sure she’ll do the same for her daughter.
In today’s verse, Jesus had just astonished His disciples by humbling Himself—the very one they call “Teacher” and “Lord”—by washing the muck, dirt, stink, and grime from their feet. Then He asked if they understood what He had done for them, for it is an example of what they should do for each other from now on: Care for each other. Love each other. Help each other stay accountable and “clean.” Days later, He showed that example of sacrificial love yet again, when Jesus surrendered Himself on the cross for them and for all humanity.
Self-sacrificing love isn’t just making dinner for your family or saying “I do” on your wedding day. Sometimes, love is sitting up all night with a sick spouse or child. Sometimes it’s taking that 2 a.m. phone call from a sobbing friend after she’s been betrayed, or serving chili at a soup kitchen. It’s loving others when doing so isn’t necessarily clean, convenient, or comfortable— safe.
Jesus showed His abiding love for us by sacrificing Himself far more than cleaning up a disaster-zone bedroom or washing grungy toes. He died for us so we may have life.
I pray I follow His example—whatever that looks like.
Jessica Brodie is an award-winning journalist and a member of the Wholly Loved Ministry team. She’s also an author who currently serves as the editor of the South Carolina United Methodist Advocate, the oldest newspaper in Methodism. She is the author of More Like Jesus: A Devotional Journey (2018) and editor of Stories of Racial Awakening: Narratives on Changed Hearts and Lives of South Carolina United Methodists (2018), both from her newspaper’s Advocate Press. She also writes contemporary women’s fiction, represented by Bob Hostetler of The Steve Laube Agency. Her novel The Memory Garden won the American Christian Fiction Writers’ 2018 Genesis Contest. She has a faith blog at JessicaBrodie.com.
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