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When Adversity Leads to Humility, Part 3

Insight for Living / Chuck Swindoll
The Truth Network Radio
November 16, 2022 7:05 am

When Adversity Leads to Humility, Part 3

Insight for Living / Chuck Swindoll

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Today, from Chuck Swindoll. Humility is not a sign of weakness. When you do the Lord's work in the Lord's way, you're not a wimp. You're not a spineless nobody that people walk all over. Are you kidding?

You're among the strongest on the planet. It wasn't too long ago and most of us were hunkered down at home waiting for COVID-19 to pass. During that unprecedented season of solitude, most of us experienced a new rhythm for our daily routines. Today, on Insight for Living, Chuck Swindoll presents his final message in a brand new series called, Clinging to Hope. This study was originally presented at the height of the pandemic. Keep that in mind as we attempt to leverage that uninvited season of isolation, allowing God to cultivate a treasured virtue in us. Chuck titled his message when adversity leads to humility. Now we're ready for John 13.

Turn there. It's a scene that has become familiar to all of us because it's the Last Supper. They've come together to celebrate the Passover meal. Jesus knew that his hour had come, verse 1 tells us, meaning the arrest and the trial were near and his crucifixion was only one night away. Verse 2 says, during supper, literally as supper was taking place, and what do we read? Verse 4, he got up from the table. He began to wash the disciples' feet, drying them with the towel he had around them, verse 5.

But when he got to Peter, all of a sudden there was a mild explosion. Look at verse 6. When Jesus came to Simon Peter, he said, Lord, my feet you're going to wash?

The way it's written in the original puts the pronouns together, and when they're in juxtapositions for the purpose of contrast, you, my feet are going to wash? He wanted to come across as humility. It could have sounded like it, but the resistance kept it from being humble. In fact, it leads to his response. Jesus said, you don't understand what I'm doing.

Someday you will. Peter protested, no, stop. Don't touch my feet. I can wash my own feet.

You can see him tucking his feet on his sole like Peter. But before I bang around on Peter, I have to confess to all of you that being in the middle of the virus, you learn that those who have compromised immune systems have to be very, very careful. Those who are showing symptoms certainly need to be, and those who are getting up in years. I read about that and I thought about all the people that are getting up in years, and I thought, how difficult it must be for them. And then our daughter came along, our older daughter who lives two doors down, and said, Mom and Dad, I don't want you shopping, and I don't want you going out, and even though you wear a mask and gloves and think you're bulletproof, I'm going to take care of shopping for you. And my first thought was, I can shop for myself. I'm able to do this. It wasn't a matter of I couldn't do it for myself, it was a matter of I shouldn't. In fact, this is the time when Peter shouldn't resist.

His feet are dirty. And let's face it, I'm old. And my daughter is helping to watch out for us. One of the reasons we're still, well, so's Cynthia. She's old. Maybe older. She's a little older, not older than I am.

Few people on earth are older than I am, but she's getting up in a few years, and so we're both vulnerable. We ought not be out there running around picking up lettuces and celery and, you know, butter and sauces and all that. We ought to let our daughter do it for us. It's the hardest thing in the world when you're type A to let other people do that for you.

It's a check on your pride. I say to my own embarrassment. But we've learned to let her do it, usually.

We usually do that. But I told Cynthia there's kind of a reverse roles. When she was a teenager, we had to watch out because she'd sneak out and do, you know, do things. Now we're sneaking out and I say to Cynthia, you watch out, see if Carissa's watching, I'll be right back.

And yes, she's watching and she's back and she's there to talk to me. And so I understand this. I'm not beating up on Peter.

I've got the same problem and maybe you do too. But look at Jesus' response. In fact, don't miss the principle. Humility is being willing to receive without embarrassment or resistance. That's humility. You know, it occurs to me if you're a caregiver, it also takes humility to be a care receiver.

The caregiver is doing a lot of very private personal things. It's kind of tough for you to let happen, but you can't do it yourself. It takes humility to let someone really serve you. But Peter wasn't about to do that. So it's easier for me to talk about Peter than me. So forget the other stuff and look back at Peter. Peter says, no, you'll never wash my feet. In fact, the way it reads in the original, you will not wash my feet unto the ages, into eternity. And Jesus' response, look, he says to him, unless I wash you, it's over Peter. This is where we part ways.

Unless I wash you, you don't belong to me. Look at that. You know what the principle is? Humility is not a sign of weakness. When you do the Lord's work in the Lord's way, you're not a wimp. You're not a spineless nobody and people walk all the way.

Are you kidding? You're among the strongest on the planet. Jesus stands up to him and he says, you listen to me, Peter. This is where we part ways. Put your feet out here. I'm going to wash your feet because they are dirty.

And Peter, he was so like Peter, blurts out, not my feet only, but my hands and my head. Give me a whole bath. And Jesus says, you don't need a bath. You're okay all over, but your feet are dirty. But not all of you are clean. At the time, you could have thought it's a little throwaway sign, meaning your feet are dirty, but the rest of you is clean.

So let me take care of your feet. But he meant more than that. Remember, John said 60 years to think back over the event. So John says, Jesus knew who would betray him.

That's what he meant when he said, not all of you are clean. That's a little insert that John places here, thanks to the time, the lapse, when he's been able to see it all. And now we knew Judas was the one.

Speaking of that, verse 12, after washing their feet, all 12 pairs of feet, including Judas. I pause because I want that to sink in. The principle is obvious. Humility doesn't play favorites. And the easiest thing in the world in ministry is to have favorites.

Some people are just really easy to love. They're just a pastor's delight, or they're a teacher's friend. They're on the edge of their seat. They're there to help. They'll do anything for you. They're thoughtful. They care. They're responsive. And then there are Judases. There are Alexander the Coppersmiths. There are Diatrophes.

There are Demuses. There are people that are tough to really enjoy being with and to serve. But you serve them all. Now, you have to be careful here, because the tendency when you get to someone like Judas is to, heat up the water. Okay?

Or to maybe get it when it's really ice cold. Ideally, dry clean them. Take the hide off. But he doesn't do that. Just as tenderly as he used the towel to dry Andrew's feet and Matthew's feet and Peter's feet, he dried Judas's feet. I wonder if he looked at him. Just looked at him. Now, I love this. It's where I almost go to tears when I get to the end of this because of the way he handles it.

When it finishes, after washing their feet, he put on his robe again and sat down so he reclines at the table again. And he asked them, do you understand what I was doing? You get it?

Here it is. You get the message? They're silent. There's no answer. They're thinking, just like you are. The obvious thing is, you washed our feet. That's not what, Jesus doesn't ask questions that have obvious answers. They're questions that make you think.

This one especially. Do you understand what I did? Not did you see what I've done, but do you understand it?

You get it. You called me teacher and Lord. You're right. Am I the teacher and Lord?

Right. You certainly are, Lord. Because that's what I am.

That's my role. And you acknowledge that. And since I your Lord and teacher have washed your feet, now what do you expect? I know you've read ahead so you know what he says, but let's act like you haven't. Wouldn't you expect him to say, now you wash my feet?

Wouldn't that seem to be the most obvious? I've washed yours, now please wash mine. But he doesn't say that. Who wouldn't wash Jesus' feet? We stand in line to wash his feet. It's an honor to wash Jesus' feet.

We would do anything for him, they especially, now. But he says, he turns it on on his head and says, I've done this so you will know. This is what you need to do with one another. Verse 17, now that you know these things, God will bless you for doing them. Two final lessons and then I'm going to read your story. Lesson number one, ministering in humility means serving everyone, not just the Lord. We're not in our work to serve the Lord, only we're in the work to serve one another. It's the genius of wash one another's feet. So as we minister, let's keep in mind there are others in the family and there are many out of the family.

Many we come across, many we meet along life's way. Serving the Lord is always an honor, serving others is an act of humility. Which is the second lesson here. God blesses those who demonstrate humility, not those who just know about it. See how he says in verse 17, you're blessed if you do these things. You see what I've done, you're blessed if you do them.

Right now, you've heard about it and you've seen it, time to do it. I love the words of Jesus, they always put a catch in my throat. To the extent that you have done this to one of these brothers of mine, even the least of them, you've done it to me.

When you do his work, his way to the least, your rewards will be many. Teddy Stallard certainly qualified as one of the least. Disinterested in school, musty, wrinkled clothing, hair never combed. One of those kids in school with a deadpan face, expressionless.

Sort of a glassy, unfocused stare. When Miss Thompson spoke to Teddy, he answered in monosyllables. Unattractive, unmotivated and distant, he was just plain hard to like. Even though his teacher said she loved all of her class the same down deep inside, she wasn't being completely truthful. Whenever she marked Teddy's papers, she got a certain perverse pleasure out of putting a big X next to the wrong answers. And when she wrote an F at the top of the paper, she always did so with a flare.

She should have known better. She had Teddy's records and she knew more about him and she wanted to admit the records read. First grade, Teddy shows promise with his work and attitude but has a poor home situation. Second grade, Teddy could do better.

Mother is seriously ill, receives little help at home. Third grade, Teddy's a good boy but he's too serious. He's a slow learner. Mother died this year. Fourth grade, Teddy is very slow but he's well behaved.

Father shows no interest in him. Christmas came and the boys and girls in Miss Thompson's class brought her Christmas presents. They piled their presents high on her desk, crowded around to watch her open them. Among the presents there was one from Teddy Stallard. She was surprised that he had brought her a gift but he had. Teddy's gift was wrapped in brown paper and was held together with a lot of scotch tape.

On the paper were written simple words for Miss Thompson from Teddy Stallard. When she opened Teddy's present out fell a gaudy rhinestone bracelet, half the stones missing and a bottle of cheap perfume. The other boys and girls began to giggle and smirk over Teddy's gifts but Miss Thompson at least had enough presence of mind to put them on immediately. She put on the bracelet and then splashed some perfume on her wrist, holding her wrist up for others to smell and see. She said, doesn't it smell lovely?

The children taking their cue from their teacher readily agreed with oohs and aahs. At the end of the day when school was over and the other children left, Teddy lingered. He slowly walked up to her desk and said softly, Miss Thompson, Miss Thompson, you smell just like my mother. And her bracelet looks really pretty on you.

So glad you like my presents. When Teddy left, Miss Thompson dropped to her knees and asked God to forgive her. The next day when the children returned to school they were welcomed by a brand new Miss Thompson. She had become a different person. She was no longer just a teacher.

She had become an agent of God. She was now a person committed to loving her children and doing things for them that would live on after her and she made sure she did that for all of them. She helped all the children but especially the slow ones, especially Teddy Stallard. By the end of that school year Teddy showed dramatic improvement.

He had caught up with most of the students and was even ahead of a few. She didn't hear from Teddy for a long time and then one day, years later, she received a note that read, Dear Miss Thompson, I wanted you to be the first to know I'll be graduating second in my class. Love, Teddy Stallard. Four years later another note came to her desk. Dear Miss Thompson, they just told me I'll be graduating first in my class. I want you to be the first to know the university has been difficult but I'll like the study. Love, Teddy Stallard. And four years later, Dear Miss Thompson, as of today I am Theodore Stallard, M.D.

How about that? I wanted you to be the first to know I'm getting married next month, the 27th to be exact. I would like for you to come and sit where my mother would sit if she were alive. You're the only family I have now.

Dad died last year. Love, Teddy Stallard. Miss Thompson went to the wedding and sat where Teddy's mother would have sat. She deserved to sit there.

She had done something for Teddy he could never forget. Please, please listen to me. We must do God's work God's way. For the rest of our lives, long after the virus is just a memory. Let's use this as the time when we turn the corner and we became agents of God for those who need us the most, even the least of them. Please bow with me, please. Thank you, Father, for the Miss Thompsons in our lives. Thank you that their words burn deeper in our minds today than even our parents' words. Thank you that their actions are so vivid it's as if they happened yesterday.

Thank you that you prompted them to love us, even when we weren't very lovely. Now teach us, Lord, teach us to be like your son, to do your work his way. In Jesus' name. Amen. You're listening to Insight for Living, and with his closing prayer, Chuck Swindoll concludes his brand new 12-part teaching series called Clinging to Hope.

To learn more about this ministry, visit us online at On this final day of Chuck's study, it's my last time to mention his brand new book by the same title, Clinging to Hope. If you've had good intentions about requesting a copy, please pick up the phone or go to our website while it's still fresh on your mind. You know, life is difficult and demanding. It's often filled with pain, heartaches, setbacks, and detours. When troubles strike, it can be downright devastating, but it doesn't have to be. In his book, Chuck reassures us that we can survive, even thrive, when life spins out of control. To purchase a copy right now, go to slash hope, or call us.

If you're listening in the United States, call 800-772-8888. Thank you so much for giving financially so that we can bring the hope of God through these programs. Your donations truly make a difference.

Let me give you an example. One of your fellow listeners, a US Marine, wrote from Indiana and said, my story is a long and sordid one and would take entirely too much time to tell. Suffice it to say, my past looks a lot like the battlefields I've personally seen in the Middle East. Ironically, listening to Inside for Living has gotten me through many sleepless nights and chaotic days in those countries. Chuck and IFL have helped me fight the spiritual battles that have plagued me for so long. From one Marine to another, Semper Fidelis, and God bless you for all you do. Wow, we love hearing how God is using His word to bring hope to the hopeless.

And remember, when you contribute to Inside for Living, you are playing a significant role in making these special moments occur. You can give a donation today by calling us. If you're listening in the United States, call 800-772-8888. You can also give online at slash donate. I'm Bill Meyer. Join us when Chuck Swindoll starts a new study of praise called His Name is Wonderful. That's tomorrow on Insight for Living. The preceding message, When Adversity Leads to Humility, was copyrighted in 2020 and 2022, and the sound recording was copyrighted in 2022 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights are reserved worldwide. Duplication of copyrighted material for commercial use is strictly prohibited.
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-11-16 12:00:56 / 2022-11-16 12:09:08 / 8

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