godly fear is much more than just obeying a higher authority. There are three words in this example by Jesus that give us some idea of how to "take up the towel". The words are "dirt", "comfort" and "unity".
The disciples were 12 men beloved of God and who loved Him. But they also had dirt on their feet. Jesus was showing them that maybe their hands were clean but not their feet. It's like walking on the hills in the islands to go to a garden. We can walk all the way there and our hands can remain clean but our feet are going to get dirty. Jesus says that you, as a born again Christian, may not need your whole body washed, just your feet. This is not your literal feet He is talking about but your spiritual feet. When you walk through life as a Christian, you are saved and God has already washed you with his blood and saved your soul, but because there are temptations in this life, your soul (like the sole of you shoes) still needs to be washed from time to time.
Let me tell you that no matter how dusty and dirty the roads in Jerusalem were at that time, the roads of our day are much more filthy! I am not talking about actual dirt roads, but the roads of worldly temptation and immorality. Perhaps you can see this in the life of a brother or sister in Christ. Perhaps you have gotten your own feet dirty this week. This doesn't necessarily mean you have turned your back on God, unless you are unwilling to repent of your sin. You need someone to wash your feet. You fell, you hurt yourself, and you need your dirty feet washed.
Scripture says "Brethren, if a man is overtaken in a fault, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in the spirit of meekness; considering yourself, lest you also are tempted." We are commanded as Christians to restore every other Christian who falls into sin, if there is a repentant heart. What do you do when you are face to face with another brother or sister who has fallen into a sin? What you do has everything to do with what your Christianity and walk with Christ is all about! Do you serve others in love and kindness and submit to them in the fear of God? Or do you talk about them behind their back and pull them down while boosting yourself up? People who call themselves Christians can be very cruel sometimes. Sometimes these so-called Christians even delight in seeing dirt on others. But let me tell you, when they spread the dirt around that is the dirtiest sin of all! There have been many pastors I have seen or heard of who have resigned from churches because of a sin they fell into and the people of the church were simply unwilling to restore him, even when he repented and changed his ways. I have been to a number of places where, when I arrive there, all I hear is destructive talk about others in ministry. This really makes me sick sometimes, and I want to tell those people "Don't say another word! Let's stop right now and pray for that brother or sister, then go talk to them and clear this up." Isn't that what the Bible tells us to do? Taking up the towel takes commitment and courage. It means -- I am committed to helping him or her clean off the dirt -- I will get down on my hands and knees and do it myself through prayer and humbleness, if that is what it takes. I will work to restore their reputation, their family, to do everything I can to keep them alive in Christ!
We must take up the towel of God's mercy and go to that hurting one. We should not just stand around and spread the dirt. We should not just judge that person for personal sins when we have our own sins and faults before God. We need to go directly to that person in the special love of Jesus when they have been living in personal sin but have repented of that sin. We need to submit all of our human inclinations to ignore him, judge him, expose him, lecture him or find fault with him. Instead we are to commit ourselves to being his deepest friend. We are told to wash away his sins by sharing the correcting, healing, washing, comforting Word of God.
We are not talking about Christians here who are not repentant or who are living in continual sin. We are not talking about false teachers who are teaching destructive heresies and leading other Christians to shipwreck their faith. We should pray for them that God will work in their lives through our prayers, but we are not to