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Guidelines for Foot Washing

2010 July 7
by Roberta B

In John 13:1-17, Jesus washed the feet of his apostles. In verse 14, he gives the reason for doing this seemingly lowly task, “Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet.”

We want to follow Christ’s command to wash each other’s feet, but how do we do that? Here are some guidelines.

Look for opportunities to serve others. Sometimes, we excuse our lack of footwashing or service with the idea that we don’t know what to do. I’ve always admired the Shunamite woman described in 2 Kings 4:8-10. She knew that Elisha often traveled through her town and she saw that he needed a place to stay. She served Elisha and God by preparing a room for Elisha. She saw the opportunity and used it to serve.

  1. Open your heart to the opportunities that God sends. In Acts 16, God opened Lydia’s heart to his words spoken by Paul. She and her household were baptized and immediately she invited Paul and his companions into his home. She didn’t waste any time before serving.
  2. Don’t worry about how little you know about footwashing. Often we don’t know the words to say or the things to do for someone. Ask what they need and be prepared to do it. A friend of mine was amazed when she was visiting at the home of a lady who had just lost her husband. When she asked what she needed, the lady told her, “I could really use someone to finish my laundry before the family gets here.” Sometimes just the expression of love and that the person is in our prayers is what they need.
  3. An act of footwashing does not have to be a grand, glorious deed. Small things can be just as needed and important. So wash someone’s laundry, send a card or make a phone call, give a cup of water. (Mark 9:41)
  4. Service must be in the name of Christ and in serving others, we serve Christ. Mark 9:41 says that even a cup of water must be given in his name. When we serve others, we serve Christ. (Matthew 25:40)

 There is another challenge in footwashing—when you are the one who needs her feet washed. Recently, two ladies (in their 70s and 80s) have told me how difficult it was to realize that they needed the help of others. Both had always been active in the church; teaching classes, working in the benevolence program, supervising the preparation of food for funerals, visiting the sick. But now they both needed assistance; someone to drive them to services or the grocery store; someone else to teach the classes and visit them.

It’s hard when we reach that point, but remember that by allowing others to serve us, we allow them to feel the blessing of Christ—we all become the aroma of Christ.


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