“Ye also ought to wash one another’s feet” (John 13:14).
It is true that our Lord teaches us a lesson of humility by this lowly act, but it is also true that He gives it a spiritual significance. We are to wash one another’s feet, it is our duty, our obligation. “If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet, ye also ought to wash one another’s feet.” How can I do it? I can only do it as I walk in love; I can only do it as I keep clean myself; I can only do it as my affections are in activity; I must love in order to serve my brethren. Hence at the close of chapter 13 you get “This is My commandment, that ye love one another.” It cannot be done any other way; it cannot be done from a sense of duty—it is our duty, but it cannot be done from a sense of duty. I do not mean that we should do it merely from affection, because if we did it merely from affection, we might forget that it is the will of God for us. No, we are to do it in obedience, in the power of affection for one another produced by the Spirit of God.
In practice we can only do it by presenting Christ to each other. These are very difficult days, iniquity abounds, love waxes cold; we have not the affection for one another that we should have. How ready we are to bite and devour one another, instead of really loving each other, just because our affections are not in the power that the Lord would have them in our souls, so feet-washing is largely neglected.
One way in which we can wash one another’s feet is by presenting Christ, speaking of Him when we meet. That is the best way to do it, because we cannot tell when we meet others whether they need feet-washing or not, but we are sure to help each other if we keep Christ before the hearts and minds of His people as we come in contact with each other, and that can only be done in the power of the Spirit of God, through the Word, and in the affections the Spirit produces in our hearts.