Editor’s note: This is an opinion column.
It’s a ritual whenever our painter comes to church–the “wet paint brush tour.” He knows I need about 30 minutes with him and his wet brush to touch up the nicks and scratches incurred since his last visit. Our painter is gracious enough to do this for me. He laughs and tells me the nicks and scratches are what he calls “job security”!
Jesus used another analogy on the night in which he was betrayed and arrested. He taught his disciples a valuable lesson when he served the Passover meal, and when he served by washing their feet. Foot washing was the job of a common servant after people walked dusty roads, and none of the disciples offered to do this. Jesus removed his outer robe, took towel and basin and did the deed. He then taught them (and us) to “wash one another’s feet.”
My mother grew up in a church that practiced foot washing in worship, but I don’t know that I’ve ever seen it. Most of us believe foot washing is a synonym for humble service.
Nonetheless, Peter initially refused the overture of Jesus, then he decided to ask Jesus to wash him all over. Jesus replied that one who had been washed (“bathed”) only needed foot washing (John 13: 8-10). That is, we’re cleansed when we repent of sin and trust Christ, but we also walk in the world and our feet get dirty. We need to take care of the dust (or the nicks and scratches in the former illustration).
The Apostle John told the story about foot washing, and he relayed similar truth in his first letter. He said, “If we confess our sin, he is faithful and just to forgive us” (1 John 1:9).
The word “confess” is a compound word in the original language of the New Testament. “Homo” is the word for “same,” as in “homo sapiens”—humanity is of the same species. “Logeo” is the verb form of the word “logos,” or word. “Logeo” means “to speak.” Thus confession is speaking the same thing as God.
In other words, when the Holy Spirit of God makes followers of Christ aware of wrong, we agree. We don’t hide our sin. We cannot hide sin from God anyway, so it’s foolish to try. We agree with God’s judgment, and we forsake our wrong. Confession is like the washing of dirty feet. We must do it every day. In this way we can remain spiritually clean before the Lord.
Reflections is a weekly devotional column written by Michael J. Brooks, pastor of the Siluria Baptist Church in Alabaster, Ala. The church’s website is siluriabaptist.com.