“Don’t do just what is most convenient.”
It was just one brief scene from our marriage that had thousands of scenes, but it was one that had the power of the burning of Atlanta scene in “Gone With the Wind.”
Walking into the kitchen, I bend down and throw away some trash into the trashcan. Noticing that it is full, I release the sides of the plastic bag from the can and pull the drawstring.
Standing a few feet from me, cooking supper, Brenda says, “What are you doing?”
Like a burglar caught in the beam of a spotlight, I freeze. For reasons unknown, I instantly become an eight year old child and think I’m in trouble.
Still bent over and my hands on the trash bag, I look at Brenda and cautiously reply, “I’m taking out the trash?”
It’s then I see her satisfied smile.
“How nice,” she says. “I think that’s the first time you’ve ever taken out the trash without me asking you to. Thank you so much.”
And she gives me a kiss.
Now I’m more confused than ever. But I’m smart enough to not say anything stupid and spoil a good moment.
Lifting the plastic bag from the can, I proceed out of the house and walk to the garbage can.
Who would have thought that taking out the trash, without being asked, could make a positive difference in a marriage?
The more I reflected, the more I realized that there must have been hundreds of times (maybe thousands) that I saw the trash can needed emptying, but I did nothing about it. I knew Brenda would take it out, so why should I?
What I hadn’t realized was that each of those times I noticed the overflowing trashcan was an opportunity for marriage building – if only I had chosen to have a servant’s heart.
I’m reminded of another home where people avoided the opportunity to serve. It was a gathering of close friends, one of whom was hours from death.
It had been a busy and eventful week. No doubt everyone was tired as evening began to fall. Jesus and his twelve disciples slowly filed into a borrowed room on Friday evening to observe the Passover.
As everyone reclined on one elbow around the low table, the meal was set before them. Thinking only of their personal hunger and fatigue, each disciple began filling his belly.
The one thing no one did was take out the trash. Well, not exactly, but that’s the way I see it in my life.
What none of the disciples did was take the time to serve his friends by observing the local custom of washing a weary traveler’s feet. I don’t believe they forgot about it or that they didn’t notice how dirty everyone’s feet were. I think they just didn’t want to bother. They thought, “Someone else will do it.”
What they did not expect is that the “someone” would end up being Jesus.
The Bible tells us, “Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.”
What Jesus did was the one thing that no one else wanted to do – wash a bunch of men’s dirty, smelly feet.
Embarrassed, ashamed, chagrined, humiliated – these were the emotions that began to fill the room as Jesus moved from one disciple to the next. The emotionally charged room became so thick that Peter could not stand it. He tried to cover his mistake by engaging in hyperbole with Jesus. It only took Jesus a handful of words to put Peter in his place.
But listen carefully to what Jesus said to his friends after he finished and returned to his place among them at the table.
First, as he often did, he asks a rhetorical question, “Do you understand what I have done for you?”
These men had been with Jesus long enough, heard him banter with the scribes and Pharisees enough times, to know not to give the obvious answer, “Washed our feet.”
After the pregnant pause following his question, Jesus tells them, “I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.”
Ever hear the expression, “I’d rather see a sermon than hear one?” Well, Jesus just did it.
Think for a moment how your marriage would be transformed if you took on the attitude and actions of Jesus. What if you looked around your house at the things no one else really wants to do and you started doing them?
What might happen if you first served the members of your family, rather than yourself?
And what if your example inspired the rest of your family to behave the same way?
Give it a try. What have you got to lose?