The Master Becomes a Servant

Painting by 'Waiting for the Word'
Maundy Thursday — a call to love and serve one another like Jesus (image by: Waiting for the Word)

What is Maundy Thursday? The word comes from the Latin ‘Mandatum’ — which means Mandate or Commandment. It refers to the command Jesus gave to His disciples at the Last Supper (John 13:34,35).

34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

Jesus’ mandate to us is simple: love and serve one another. He modeled it by washing His disciples’ feet — the Master becoming the slave. A humble yet profound act that foreshadows what would come next, when He would give His life for them.

For the disciples, Jesus did the unthinkable act. Only slaves would bow down, roll up their sleeves and wash their dirty, sand-soiled feet. It was a revolutionary act that took them completely by surprise. No wonder, at first, Peter refused to let Jesus wash his feet.

Here’s a God who did not just say it, he showed it. (Romans 5:8) His humility and majesty are unmatched. I am once again captured by this clear demonstration of love by my Master. He humbled himself to wash my feet… I have been commanded to do likewise.

‘Who’s dirty feet is God asking me to wash today?’

‘What do I need to give up for the sake of another?’

Oh, I how I need to die to my self-will, my self-importance, my need to feel validated. I pray this hymn echoes the prayer of your heart, as it does mine.

“Lord take my life and make it wholly Thine
Fill my poor heart with Thy great love divine
Tale all my will, my passion, self and pride
I now surrender, Lord, in me abide”

(3rd stanza from Hymn ‘Search Me O God’)

Listen to a fresh arrangement of this hymn here.

(This article was originally published here on 28 March 2018, and is used by permission


Channels, not storehouses

Giving is an expression of our worship to God and a privilege we have as believers to participate in the Lord’s work. Scriptures are replete with examples of generous giving: we have the story of the widow giving out of her poverty (Mark 12), businesswoman Lydia extending hospitality out of her wealth (Acts 16), the widow giving her last meal to Elijah despite her trepidation (1 Kings 17), and Mary anointing Jesus with a costly jar of ointment out of devotion to her Master (Mark 14).

We also have negative examples of those who hoarded: Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5), Elisha’s servant Gehazi who became greedy (2 Kings 5), and the rich fool who built storehouses for his own enjoyment (Luke 12).

What matters in our giving is not the amount, but our attitude. We give out of a grateful heart for all that God has blessed us with, and we give in faith as God leads us to give sacrificially. When we give to the Lord, we trust that He will provide for our needs, multiply our offering and use it for His glory.

God desires that we become channels of His blessings and not mere storehouses. God releases His abundant resources through His people and the church. As channels, our giving becomes an extension of God’s grace to those in need. Those who receive are also enabled to fulfil God’s calling and mission. On the other hand, we become storehouses when we hoard God’s resources for our own enjoyment or out of worry that our needs will not be met.

A generous heart does not reflect our economic or social standing; it reflects our desire to bless the Lord and His work through what He has given us. We give because we want to, and not because we have to. With right attitudes, our giving in faith will fill both the giver and the recipient with praise and thanksgiving to God (2 Corinthians 9:12-14). The wise man writes in Proverbs 11:24 (NLT):

“Give freely and become more wealthy; be stingy and lose everything.”

The storehouse of all good things belongs to God (James 1:17). From that infinite source of blessing, He will replenish all that we sow, whether material or spiritual, so that we become channels of His blessings.

In this festive season, would you be a channel of God’s blessings by partnering with us to Win-Build-Train-Send multiplying disciples for the Kingdom?

My prayer for all of us in 2016 —

“May the favor of the Lord our God rest upon us; and establish the work of our hands for us.”

Psalm 90:17

Blessings,

Lam Kok Hiang
Country Leader


Photograph by Bert Heymans

Restoring our first love

Some of us may remember singer Paul Simon’s classic song Slip Sliding Away:

“We work our jobs, collect our pay,
believe we’re gliding down the highway,
when in fact we’re slip sliding away.
Slip sliding away… slip sliding away…
you know, the nearer your destination,
the more you’re slip sliding away.”

Paul Simon, Slip Sliding Away

The church in Ephesus (Revelation 2:1-7) was commended for her good deeds and persevering faith in the midst of hardships. They thought they were doing well until Christ pointed out to them the reality of their hearts:

“Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love.”

Revelation 2:4

The Greek word for “first” means “first in priority”. We have lost our first love when Christ is no longer the first in priority in our lives. There are many competing distractions that may dislodge Christ to secondary priority -– the pursuit of career opportunities that consume too much of our energies, key relationships in our lives that we cannot seem to surrender to the Lord, or our over-commitments in Christian service that leave us worn out. We think that we are doing well but actually we are “slip sliding away”. This is so subtle that we may not even notice it ourselves.

How can we restore our first love?

Firstly, we must come before God to repent from allowing seemingly good things to become substitutes for His first love. We need to re-evaluate the priorities in our lives so that our love for God is unrivaled (Luke 14:25-33). When we live in sin, we have forsaken our first love. We must repent and ask God for forgiveness.

Secondly, recall those moments when we first encountered Christ and celebrate again our salvation story. Share it with your family members or friends. Rekindle the excitement of being a child of God and the youthful abandonment in serving Christ when we were younger. Remove the dross of dullness and ask God for a new heart.

As we mature in life and perhaps attain material security, it takes even more effort to maintain our first love for God. But Christ deserves and demands supremacy in all areas of our lives.

If Christ is not Lord of all, He is not Lord at all.

Blessings,

Lam Kok Hiang
Country Leader


Photograph by Silke Remmery