Key Scriptures: Acts 6:1-7, I Timothy 3:8-13, John 13, I Peter 4:10, Acts 20:35, Galatians 5:13-14, Matthew 20:28, Mark 10:44-45, Philippians 2:1-11, Matthew 25:35-40, Luke 6:38, Matthew 5:16, James 2:14-17, Galatians 6:9, Luke 6:27-45, Ephesians 2:10, Hebrews 13:16, 10:24, I Timothy 6:17-19, Ephesians 4:28, Matthew 5:42
Guiding Questions: Why does God want us to serve others and how are we to serve?
Optional Introductory Activity: Have the students remove their shoes and socks (if you have students who wear hose, you may want to warn them a week ahead not to wear them). Have people your students love and admire come in and lovingly wash their feet. Think about using parents, elders or others like them. If the foot washers are up for it, have the students walk around in the dirt outside before having their feet washed. (Outside! Please don’t track dirt and mud into your building!) Note: The students will be extremely uncomfortable during this activity. That’s okay. Afterwards, discuss how they would have felt had you asked them to wash the feet of the person who washed their feet. Ask them why both having their feet washed and washing someone’s feet make them uncomfortable.
Lesson: (Questions for students are in bold italics.) Read Acts 6:1-7. What happened in these verses? Why did they need to appoint deacons? All Christians are supposed to serve others, but deacons are appointed by the elders to make sure everyone is being served in the church and no one is neglected. Read I Timothy 3:8-13. What characteristics must a deacon have? Since a deacon’s primary function is service, which of these qualities might indicate whether or not they would be good servants?
Read John 13:1-17. You just experienced having your feet washed. Foot washing was something usually done for all houseguest, usually by a servant or slave. How might the apostles have felt as Jesus washed their feet? What lesson did He want them to learn from His example? Jesus knew that they (except Judas) would become leaders in the church. Why did He want them to think of themselves as servants and not leaders?
The example that Jesus set wasn’t just for the apostles or even deacons. God wants all of us to serve others. Read the following scriptures and ask. What reason does each give for why God wants us to serve?
- Matthew 5:14-16 and I Peter 2:12 – So others will see your good deeds and praise God.
- Acts 20:35 – because Jesus said it is more blessed to give than to receive.
- Galatians 5:13-14 and James 2:8 – entire law is “love your neighbor as yourself”.
- Mark 10:44-45 and Luke 22:26-27 – Jesus set the example.
- I John 3:17-18 – because the love of God is in us.
- James 1:27 – because its pure undefiled religion.
- Romans 12:20 – overcome evil with good.
- I Peter 4:10-11 – God may be praised.
- Matthew 19:21, Colossians 3: 23-24, II Corinthians 5:10 and I Timothy 6:18-19 – to store treasure in heaven.
- Hebrews 6:10 and Proverbs 14:21, 31 – because our faith is alive.
- Ephesians 2:10 – God prepared these works for us to do.
- James 2:26, 14-18 – because our faith is alive.
- II Timothy 3:17 – because we were equipped by God for every good work.
- James 4:17 – because it is a sin if you know the good to do and don’t do it.
- I Corinthians 12:4-7 – for the common good.
- Ephesians 4:12-13 – to build up the church.
Now that we know why God wants us to serve, the question becomes whom do we serve?
- Matthew 5:14-16 – “man” (implied unchurched).
- Acts 20:35 – the weak
- Galatians 5:13-14 – one another, your neighbor
- I John 3:17-18 – Christians, those in need
- James 1:27 – orphans, widows
- I Timothy 5:3 – widows who are really in need
- Romans 12:20 – enemies, hungry, thirsty
- Galatians 6:10 – all people, esp. Christians
- Exodus 23:11 – poor, wild animals (after people)
- Acts 9:36-39 – widows and poor (clothing)
- Deuteronomy 15:7-11 – poor
- Esther 9:22 – food to one another, gifts to the poor
- Psalms 82:3 and Proverbs 31:9 – weak and needy, fatherless, rights of the poor and oppressed
- Luke 14:13 and Proverbs 22:9 – poor, disabled, lame and blind
- Matthew 25:35 – hungry, thirsty, those needing place to stay, need clothes, sick and prisoners
- Luke 12:33 – poor
- Jeremiah 22:3 – foreigners in your land, fatherless, widows and crime victims
- Proverbs 14:21,31 – needy, poor
- Isaiah 1:17 – encourage the oppressed, justice, fatherless, widows
- Isaiah 58:6-7 – injustice, “untie cords of yoke”
- James 2:14-16 – hungry, needing shelter, naked, relatives
- Proverbs 31:10-31 – husband, children, needy, poor
- I Thessalonians 5:12-15 – timid, warn the idle, Christians, people
- Ephesians 4:12-13 – the church
Think back to Jesus washing the apostles feet. Do you think He whined and complained? Did He scrunch up His nose and fuss at them for their dirty feet? How do you think He acted? What was His attitude? What was the expression on His face? We don’t know everything about that day but some other scriptures give us clues of what God wants our attitude to be as we serve others. What do the following verses tell us that God wants our attitude to be?
- Philippians 2:1-4 – not out of selfish ambition or conceit, with humility
- Galatians 5:13-14 – love
- I John 3:17-18 – love in action, compassion
- Esther 9:22 – joy and celebration of our blessings and deliverance
- Luke 14:13 – not expecting to be repaid
- Ephesians 6:7-8 – wholeheartedly
- Proverbs 22:9 and I Timothy 6:18-19 – generous
- I Thessalonians 5:12-15 – patient, kind
Skills Activity: Review main points of the lesson. Ask the students to take the principles and choose one of the groups of people to serve. Challenge them to plan and execute a service project that incorporates what they studied about how and why God wants them to serve. Encourage them to consider their gifts, talents and resources as they plan. After the service project it completed have a time of reflection with the students. Reviewing the scriptures from the lesson, discuss which ones were easy to live out during their project and which ones were difficult. What did they learn form the experience? What would they do differently next time?
Application Challenge: Read the stories of Jesus healing and feeding people during His ministry. Notice His attitude and how He pointed those He served to God. What types of things can you do regularly to serve others and point them to God?
Author: Thereasa Winnett