How many followers of Christ traipse around in the Emporer’s new clothes? Thinking they are exquisitely clad with their ornaments of royalty, they flit about naked. The warning to the church of Laodicea is a startling reminder, “Thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me…white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear” (Revelation 3:17-18).
The saints clothing is an interesting study. There are two main articles we must put on. The robe of righteousness can only be put on once we have shed the old man of self-righteousness (Isaiah 61:10; cp. Ephesians 4:24; Philippians 3:9). However, the focus at this moment is in John 13. Jesus was faced with the epic climax of his ministry on earth for he “knew that his hour was come that he should depart” (John 13:1). When we face moments of crisis, we shrink back into our shell and fold in on ourselves. Jesus “riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself” (John 13:4).
A soldier buckles his gear in place for battle. A carpenter straps his belt around him for work. Jesus adorns the towel of humility as a badge of honor as he washes his disciples’ feet. The first article of clothing for the saint is the robe of righteousness, but the second is the towel of humility. To be clothed in humility (1 Peter 5:5), we must follow our Savior’s example.
Notice, he rose up. The believer who comments, “I don’t know how God wants me to serve or what I should do,” often is the believer who sits in the pew. Rise up! Push away from the table. If you are not serving your Savior, then you are a disgrace to his example. Too many sit at meat although Christ is “among you as he that serveth.” Jesus posed the question to his disciples, “For whether is greater, he that sitteth at meat, or he that serveth? is not he that sitteth at meat” (Luke 22:27)? Let this truth prick your conscience. If the Lord rose up from the table and served, all the while I remain at the table, I have positioned myself as greater than He. The reluctance to serve is the presumption of superiority!
It’s time to rise up and lay aside the garments of our perceived self-importance and wrap the towel of humility about our waist. Serve your friends. Serve your enemy and you will “heap coals of fire upon his head” (Romans 12:20). Serve your Savior. A follower of Christ must truly follow his example and take the towel of service. Only then are you “clothed in humility” (1 Peter 5:5).