“So He came to a city of Samaria which is called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. Now Jacob’s well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied from His journey, sat thus by the well. It was about the sixth hour.
A woman of Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, ‘Give Me a drink.’ For His disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.
Then the woman of Samaria said to Him, ‘How is it that You, being a Jew, ask a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?’ For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.
Jesus answered and said to her, ‘If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.’
The woman said to Him, ‘Sir, You have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep. Where then do You get that living water? Are You greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well, and drank from it himself, as well as his sons and his livestock?’
Jesus answered and said to her, ‘Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.’
The woman said to Him, ‘Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst, nor come here to draw.’
Jesus said to her, ‘Go, call your husband, and come here.’
The woman answered and said, ‘I have no husband.’
Jesus said to her, ‘You have well said, ‘I have no husband,’ for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; in that you spoke truly.’
The woman said to Him, ‘Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship.’
Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.’
The woman said to Him, ‘I know that Messiah is coming’ (who is called Christ). ‘When He comes, He will tell us all things.’
Jesus said to her, ‘I who speak to you am He.’
And at this point His disciples came, and they marveled that He talked with a woman; yet no one said, ‘What do You seek?’ or, ‘Why are You talking with her?’
The woman then left her water pot, went her way into the city, and said to the men, ‘Come, see a Man who told me all things that I ever did. Could this be the Christ?’ Then they went out of the city and came to Him.’”—John 4:5-30
Well ladies (and gents), we are getting down to the home stretch. As I was doing my biblical research on the women who would round out the singles/courtship portion of this study, I must admit that I found all three of them (the Samaritan woman, the woman caught in adultery and Mary Magdalene) to be very fascinating. All of them had skeletons in their closets, all of them were probably considered (at least to the men they were involved with) as “conveniently scandalous” and all of them, because of their testimony, ended up ministering to those around them in a powerful, powerful way.
As I read about the Samaritan woman, there were three things that immediately stood out to me. For one, Jesus approached her although it was not customary in his religion/culture to do so. Two, although it initially appeared that Jesus was asking something of her, it was really he who had something great to offer; all she had to do was willingly submit. And three, even back then, “kickin’ it” was an issue; however, our Savior did not avoid dealing with the heart of the matter dead on.
We’ll tackle all three lessons.
How interesting that those of us who claim to be followers of Christ are not as receptive to people who do not think as we do, although our Savior was during his time here on earth. Here was Jesus, the Christ, approaching a Samaritan woman—something that NO ONE did in his time—for some water from her well. This not only required courage and courtesy but trust in her as well.
Just a couple of weeks ago, I was talking to someone about how sad it is that not only are many Christians prejudice towards people who are of other faiths, but they can be just as ignorantly judgmental about those of other denominations. Sadly, we miss the fact that all men serve a purpose, or they wouldn’t be here. Ecclesiastes 3:1 says that “to everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven” and that Ephesians 4:32 tells us that we are to “be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving of one another even as God in Christ forgave you.”
Sadly, some of us are so “appearance driven” that we are missing opportunities both to minister, but to also be ministered to. When the Amish school shootings happened a couple of weeks ago, I remembered hearing a particular public-speaking Christian say, “Hopefully this will convict them to get their lives right.” Shoot, do you know what I got out of it? “Man, I struggle with forgiving people for much less. I hope I can get my heart right before even encountering such a test.”
When Jesus came to the Samaritan woman, it wasn’t about her culture or her choices, it was about the woman. Whether we’re dealing with a virgin, a prostitute, a liar, a truth seeker, an atheist or a preacher’s wife, before any of these things, what we should ask God to give us is the vision to discern a person’s heart so that we can see how we can meet them at their place of need. Also, so that we can be open to gaining from them as well (cause if you were perfect, you wouldn’t be here).
Several weeks ago, two women at a church here in Nashville prayed over me. One of the things that they asked for was that I would be restored to the woman I was meant to be in the womb: before the abuse, before the promiscuity, before the abortions, before the heartache—before it all. That’s what Christ’s love is all about. When the Word says that before the womb, we are called and chosen (Jeremiah 1:5); our (confessed) transgressions are thrown as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12), and that if we are in Christ, we are a new creation; old things have passed away and all things have become new (2 Corinthians 5:17); there is no discrimination that comes with these assurances. You not liking someone will not change it. Your judging them without having all of the information will not change it. Being sick of witnessing their cycles (from your ill-advised perspective) will not change it. The timetable that you have set for their salvation will not change it.
Which is just one more reason why I love this story. Here was Jesus, knowing all of her “her-story” and still he asked her to help him out. I think that was Jesus way of introducing her to the concept of worthiness. Remember, Jeremiah 31:3 says that “I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore with loving kindness I have drawn you.”
Ladies (or guys for that matter), don’t ever give anyone permission to cause you to feel that your past mistakes have made you unworthy of loving kindness. God loves you no matter what and as Christians we are called to love you as well. What we really should be on our faces about is that we will learn how to love ourselves first before stepping out to reach anyone else. The Word says that we are to love our neighbors as we do ourselves (Matthew 19:19). Jesus was able to approach the Samaritan woman, even with all of her issues, because HE LOVED HIMSELF. He didn’t see her through the eyes of condemnation (Romans 8:1). He saw her through the eyes of compassion (Psalm 86:15).
And, as his children, we are expected to do the same. Zechariah 8:16-18 (AMP) tells us:
“These are the things that you shall do: speak every man the truth with his neighbor; render the truth and pronounce the judgment or verdict that makes for peace in [the courts at] your gates. And let none of you think or imagine or devise evil or injury in your hearts against his neighbor, and love no false oath, for all these things I hate, says the Lord.”
With that said, in relationship to those of you still on the journey from the bondage of your current lifestyle, don’t be consumed with what man says you must do to be in right standing with God. Psalm 51:15-16 reminds us that God does not delight in burnt offerings (that includes people burning you to the stake with their words of ridicule), but in a broken spirit and contrite heart.
This brings us to lesson #2.
When Jesus asked the Samaritan woman for water, he then told her that in exchange, he would give her a kind of water that would cause her to never thirst again. As a former Samaritan woman myself with 13 “husbands”, this spoke volumes to me.
Right now, at this stage of my life, I must admit that I have to continue to remind myself to not be “weary in well doing” (Galatians 6:9) because it seems that God is requiring so much out of me right now. However, God will never ask us to give something without giving to us in return (perhaps not what you wanted but always what you needed). Some of you, at this very moment, are wondering just how much more God is going to ask you to give up without realizing what he is setting you up for. Yes, you are going to have to give up that boyfriend. It’s the only way to get your husband. Yes, you are going to have to stop renting that $1200/month apartment. It’s the only way to save money to buy your first house. Yes, you are going to have to put your pride aside and confess your sins to some people you have hurt. It’s the only way to fully receive God’s blessings (Matthew 5:23-24). What God very recently reminded me of, is that even when I feel completely depleted, it’s just God’s way of “spring cleaning the soul” in preparation for what’s to come:
“Give, and [gifts] will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over, will they pour into [the pouch formed by] the bosom [of your robe and used as a bag]. For with the measure you deal out [with the measure you use when you confer benefits on others], it will be measured back to you.”—Luke 6:38 (AMP)
“Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults— unless, of course, you want the same treatment. Don’t condemn those who are down; that hardness can boomerang. Be easy on people; you’ll find life a lot easier. Give away your life; you’ll find life given back, but not merely given back—given back with bonus and blessing. Giving, not getting, is the way. Generosity begets generosity.”—Luke 6:37-38 (Message)
Jesus knew, just by this woman being open to hearing what he said to say, that she would be open to what he had to offer.
Ladies, there will be times when God will test you. Someone will approach you for your time or a resource that seems out of the ordinary. Ask God, through the Holy Spirit, to help you clearly discern before turning the opportunity down. You just never know what your willingness to help out will be getting you ready for (especially when it comes to mate preparation because if you are selfish now, baby, a man in your house ain’t gonna change that).
Now the third lesson can be left up to a few interpretations. When Jesus told the Samaritan woman to go and get her husband to help her with the water and her reply was “I have no husband” and Jesus responded with, “You have well said, ‘I have no husband,’ for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; in that you spoke truly”, there are some different ways to take this.
The most common conclusion is that, in sleeping around, her choice to become “one in the flesh”, through fornication, caused these men to be her husband (Genesis 2:24). Now, the interesting thing with this is that I find it interesting that if those five men were her husband, then how come the man that she was “currently with” wasn’t considered as husband as well? Was it because they had only been on a couple of dates? Was it that he had only gotten to second base, but hadn’t hit a “home run” yet? Or were they one of those couples who fooled themselves into thinking that “so long as we’re roommates, it’s not a problem to live together”?
I’m gonna be honest with you. It doesn’t matter to me either way. If she married five men, she’s broken. If she slept with five men while working on guy #6, she’s still broken. I believe what Jesus was really trying to relay to her was that those men in her life cannot do for her what he could. She was looking for them to fill voids that they were not capable of filling. Ladies, take it from me: Mankind is flawed and so men will fail you. However, Proverbs 30:5 tells us that God’s word is pure and he is a shield for those who trust him. Psalm 65:3 says that God will provide atonement for our sins. Isaiah 38:16 says that God will restore and make us live. Psalm 48:14 says that God is our guide even unto death. Philippians 4:19 says that God will supply all of our needs according to his riches in glory. Ephesians 3:20 says that he can do exceeding and abundantly above all that we can ask or think. And, Ecclesiastes 3:14 tells us that what God does, he does forever. Nothing can be added or taken from it (so don’t even get me started on how many divorces are because those people shouldn’t have been married in the first place!).
Ladies, no other man can assure you of being all of these things! What I am coming to see (and the walk has not been easy, but it’s still worth it) is that only through a relationship with God can a standard be set on how to know when he has sent you your mate. No, he will not be perfect (uh, are you?), but he will be godly, it will not be full of drama and you will be at peace. How do I know? Because Psalm 85:8 assures us that God will speak peace to his people and not let them turn back to folly. If you are finding yourself in your 80th stupid relationship, you don’t need to be worried about your interaction with that man; you need to be concerned with getting your communication right with God because if the two of you are on point, you will not be like a dog who returns to his own vomit (Proverbs 26:11).
Which brings us to the final lesson that we all can learn from the Samaritan woman. Once Jesus ministered to the woman that her religion was not the right one and in order to have a relationship with God, she must worship him “in spirit and in truth” (verse 23), the Bible says that his followers were surprised to see Jesus talking to her.
Let me tell you that I know many people who are surprised (some have even been bold enough to tell me) that I have the kind of relationship that I have with God. Because from where they sat, I was not “worthy”, they were not able to discern the metamorphosis that God was, and in many ways still is, taking me through. And you know what? I don’t even worry about it anymore.
Something my mother told me right before my first book, Inside of Me, was released was that “Jesus did not defend himself and when you know that you are in God’s will, you don’t need to, either.”
Yes, we can pass the offering plate around one good time for that tidbit of wisdom, but if you find that in reading this, you are one of those high and mighty divas who think that people must be “on your level” (who set that bar, anyway?) to be received, check this: John 4:28-30 says that the Samaritan woman left her water jar (immediately it seems she didn’t need it any longer, doesn’t it?) and went to tell the people about Jesus and because they listened to her, they were able to receive a blessing as well. If they had judged her, doubted her, wasted time talking about her, or ignored her, it wouldn’t have hurt her feelings; she had already received a blessing from God. No, what would have happened is they would’ve missed out on what, through her, Jesus was trying to give to them.
Ladies, I don’t care what you’ve done. Within your personal “her-story”, therein lies a testimony. One of my favorite scriptures of all time is I Timothy 4:14-16:
“Get the word out. Teach all these things. And don’t let anyone put you down because you’re young. Teach believers with your life: by word, by demeanor, by love, by faith, by integrity. Stay at your post reading Scripture, giving counsel, teaching. And that special gift of ministry you were given when the leaders of the church laid hands on you and prayed—keep that dusted off and in use.
Cultivate these things. Immerse yourself in them. The people will all see you mature right before their eyes! Keep a firm grasp on both your character and your teaching. Don’t be diverted. Just keep at it. Both you and those who hear you will experience salvation.”
The Samaritan woman should actually serve as an inspiration to us all. She stepped out of her religious and cultural upbringing in the pursuit of truth. She was not so prideful about her mess that she refused Jesus’ open rebuke. She had enough faith that what he had to offer would indeed change her life. And, she didn’t try and hoard it for herself.
Homework for today: What are you thirsty for? Companionship? Affection? Conversation? Affirmation? Attention? Provision? A relationship with God can quench all of these things and you will be all the better for it. You know how they say to not go grocery shopping when you are hungry because you will pick up things you don’t even really want and can’t really afford? Take it from me, this applies to “husband shopping” as well. Make sure you do it on a full spirit.
And finally, ask God to reveal to you what your testimony is. The promise found in I Timothy 14 is not just for pastors, televangelists and Dove-award winners. It’s for EVERYONE with a desire to keep a FIRM grasp on YOUR CHARACTER and God’s teachings.
What are you waiting for? Right now someone is needing to hear what a visit from God has done for your life. Don’t let them die of (spiritual) thirst as you’re second-guessing your worthiness. God made you. You’re worthy.
©Shellie R. Warren/2006