The meaning of the phrase “throw in the towel” came from boxing sometime around 1913. A boxer was being beaten badly by his opponent; even the crowd was begging the referee to call the match. Finally, the trainers threw in a towel to indicate they had conceded the fight. Thus the phrase has come to mean; giving up, conceding, surrender, defeat, failure, and that one is done doing whatever contest or task at hand. However, this towel throwing does not mean that the job was done or the course completed or the mission finished. It means more of an inability to go on or an unwillingness to continue.
So why am I talking about this with you today, especially with a title that says “Throw in the towel … and serve”? Well, it could mean that when we set out to serve God it is going to take us conceding, ‘throwing in the towel,’ to self and living life God’s way. Jesus put it this way:
Luke 9:23 Then He said to them all: “If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me.
This is true and good and something we should do as we serve God; to ‘throw in the towel’ and deny self and seek to fulfill God’s purposes. Yes, to be a quality servant of the Lord means we take up our cross or ‘throw in the towel’ and surrender our will to God’s. But that’s not what I was thinking of when I wrote “Throw in the Towel…and Serve!”
What I was thinking of was what Jesus said in John 13:5-17 when He washed the disciples feet.
John 13:5 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.
Jesus, the King of kings and Lord of lords, doing the work of the lowest slave is such an amazing picture of service. I mean we are talking JESUS.
Colossians 1:15-17 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.
Yes, that Jesus who stooped down and took up or ‘threw in’ a towel to serve His men. And Jesus said we should do the same.
John 13:15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.
See, we should take a humble stance in life and be willing to serve; to take on the role of the lowest servant, and look for ways to help people, to meet people’s needs, to concede to self and serve God’s purposes. We should be like Jesus who threw in the towel and surrendered Himself to serve another. I don’t know if that hits you, but WOW! Jesus; Almighty, All-Powerful, All-Everything GOD, humbling Himself like that. And Jesus’ days were filled with one throw-in-the-towel-and-serve event after another, with the extreme one being where Jesus threw in the ultimate towel by giving His life for us.
This past Sunday at our Annual Celebration most everyone made a throw-in-the-towel-and-serve type decision. People came forward saying they would do their best to serve the Lord this year. They picked up a little hand towel reminder that had the words “Compassion Compelled Service” printed on it. I was both blessed and blown away! God is going to do some amazing things in and through our church this year!
So, now comes the hard work of throwing in that towel like Jesus and either finding a place to serve, or serve all that much more diligently where you are already serving. To find a place to serve…pray, ask God and what He puts in your mind, seek counsel and go for it. I would encourage you to try out a number of options. If nothing comes to mind try serving with our church in our community. We have an excellent opportunity this July 4th at the Los Alamitos Joint Forces Training Base. There are 3½ hour shifts at the Kids Fun Zone as ticket takers and to work in the game booths. The two shifts are: Shift A: 3:00 – 6:30 pm and Shift B: 6:30 pm – 10 pm. If you are interested contact George Pardon at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are already serving somewhere, go at it with a new vigor and a renewed sense of purpose that this is God’s call on your life right now. Seek to do a great job, look for more ways to accomplish this ministries goals and purpose, and let God’s love shine through. Throw in that towel…and serve!
Seeking to chuck some towels with you,