“If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet” (John 13:14).
When Christ washed the disciples’ feet (John 13:1-5), they were shocked. Peter even tried to refuse Jesus’ service. How could their teacher and leader do the unpleasant work that was often delegated to servants and slaves?
In that time and place, people wore sandals while walking long distances in the dirt and heat. That’s why the task of getting closeup and personal with stinky feet wasn’t a job anyone jockeyed for. But they needed clean feet if they were to recline to eat their meal together, as was the custom. You couldn’t hide your feet under a chair and table — they were right out in the open.
At one point, the disciples argued about who would be regarded as the greatest (Luke 22:24-27). By washing their filthy feet, Jesus showed them that the greatest were those who served others in love and humility. As it says in the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Jesus’ “act of humility actually cleansed [the disciples’] hearts of selfish ambition, killed their pride, and taught them the lesson of love.”
In marriage, we have ample opportunities to “wash one another’s feet.” Just think of the ways we could be humble and do the dirty work! Linking “dirty work” and “opportunity” doesn’t come naturally, of course, which is why we need to think about it.
In humility, you can let your spouse have the first choice or the last brownie. You can try your spouse’s solution to a problem instead of insisting on your way. You can listen respectfully to their correction if you mess up. With a servant’s heart, you can do the dishes even if it’s not “your turn.” You can be the one to get out of bed at night with the sick child and clean up the vomit.
There are many ways to wash one another’s feet without actually touching any tootsies.
Lord Jesus, help me have the humble heart of a servant so I can love my spouse as you love me. Please show me when I’ve been selfish, and help me see how I can best “wash my spouse’s feet.”
Today’s marriage devotional question
How can I “wash my spouse’s feet” this week?