The Perfect Gift

I’m not a very good gift giver. Fortunately, my wife’s love language is not receiving gifts. She prefers quality time. That works much better for me.

When I reflect on gifts that I’ve given loved ones in the past, I can’t think of many that were perfect. Giving my future wife a diamond engagement ring for Christmas was a good move. I think my teenagers were grateful when we provided cars for them to drive. But there is one gift that I bought my in-laws that was perfect.

I bought it from a gift shop in Jerusalem in 1997. It’s a hand carved piece of olive wood depicting Jesus washing a disciple’s feet. You can find the story of Jesus’ act of service and humility in the New Testament book of John, chapter 13. In Jesus’ day, only servants washed feet. You can imagine that the disciples were taken aback when Jesus got up from the table, wrapped a towel around his waist, poured water into a basin, and knelt down to begin his living illustration of selflessness.

I’m reminded of this gift because as I write this I’m sitting in my in-law’s living room. My mother-in-law will be passing through this life to a life of eternity any time. We are watching and waiting for her last breath. By the time you read this, she will have already made
the move from earth to heaven.

I have great in-laws. They have been humble servants of Christ their entire lives. They never preached a sermon. They never wrote a book. They never sang moving duets to a crowd. They never were in, nor did they ever seek, the spotlight.

They have taken the posture of Jesus washing his disciple’s feet for as long as I’ve known them. They served quietly in the background. I don’t know if they ever washed feet but I know they’ve washed a lot of dishes in the church kitchen! They loved and served many widows and widowers. They gave sacrificially. They loved flawed family members and friends. They honored Christ in all they did.

Of all the gifts I’ve given people over the years, the olive wood carving of Jesus washing the disciple’s feet was one of the best ever. Not because it was expensive because it wasn’t. Not because it was fancy because it’s not. It was the perfect gift because it honored lives that displayed the very act Jesus was performing. It sits in their den today and it reminds me of lives well lived every time I look at it.

Are you humbly serving Christ today? Are you willing to get on your knees and wash the feet of those around you? Jesus did. And he asks us to do the same.

“Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and
whoever wants to be first must be your slave— just as the Son of Man
did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a
ransom for many” (Matthew 20:26-28).

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