“No,” Peter protested, “you will never ever wash my feet!” (John 13:8)
Being a super high-achiever, I must confess I find it difficult to receive from others. Really difficult. I’m usually on the giving end, not the receiving. My pride fights hard to stay intact when receiving generosity.
This was brought home to me rather forcefully one Christmas season several years ago. A man in our church congregation drove over to our home with his Christmas gift to our family. Not something wrapped up in bright paper with a big ribbon, but a thoughtful gift of love demonstrated by his washing all the windows of our home. I was studying that Saturday morning at my office at the church as my wife and our children welcomed him in. He quietly began doing the job. I drove up later that morning and immediately noticed his car out front. I wondered if there was perhaps some need (there I was again, thinking like I usually do).
The kids met me at the door with the news that Phil (not his real name) was there and was washing our windows. My immediate response, of course, was surprise. I knew he was a busy husband and father with many more things to do than clean my windows. I went to the patio and saw his smiling face. “Phil what’s going on?” I asked, “Man, I can’t believe this.”
Still smiling, he responded, “Chuck, I just wanted to do this for you and your family. Merry Christmas!”
“Hey, Phil, (I’m now a little embarrassed) what do you say you just finish up the patio doors, and we’ll get the rest, okay?”
“Nope. I’d like to go all the way around.”
“Gee, thanks, man . . . but you’ve got lots of other things more important to do. Tell you what, you get all the downstairs, and the kids and I will get the upstairs.”
“No, I’d really like to get up there too.”
“Well, uh—why don’t you get the outside all the way around, and we’ll get the inside?”
Phil paused, looked directly at me, and said, “Chuck! I want to wash all the windows, upstairs and downstairs, inside and outside, every one of them. You are always giving. For a change, I’d like you to receive.”
Suddenly, I realized what a battle I have with graciously receiving others’ gifts. I understand Peter’s reluctance to let Jesus wash his feet. Servanthood was hard for Peter, especially when it called for receiving from someone else. Are we really any different?