Battling Judgmentalism: Lessons from the Woman at the Well
I think I'm not judgmental... until I'm confronted with how judgmental I am! The truth is, I like feeling that I deserve my blessings somehow. I really do care about people and I'm becoming a better person but sometimes I'm faced with my own obnoxious arrogance and it makes me cringe. I'm crazy thankful for grace and God not giving up on me. I wish he would also let me go back in time and re-do some of my epic grace fails!
I once had a woman share her story with me. She was living in a trailer park and dating her best friend’s baby daddy. He wanted to keep living with her and stay legally married to the first woman because of some tax issue. Meanwhile, the best friend was going to keep babysitting for all the kids because she was collecting disability. After sharing all of the rest of the details, this woman asked me, “What would you do?”
All I could think was “we departed from what I would I do a loooong time ago.” And I failed. I failed to show Jesus’ love in this situation. I did a horrible job of representing him. In that moment, all I could see was how different this woman's life was from mine and I looked down on her. I sat there dumbfounded and offered no hope.
Much to my disgust, I have repeated the story among Christians often and it has always met with uproarious laughter. The last time I told the story, the young adults at my table laughed, and I immediately knew I was wrong. I thought of how Jesus reacted to the woman at the well. I suddenly saw my hypocrisy and I was ashamed.
Let's look at how much more awesome Jesus is than me:
This chapter starts out by giving us the background info that Jesus is gaining popularity and some big important dudes of the day, the Pharisees, are starting to take notice. The Pharisees were not happy about people following Jesus and they were probably looking for a reason to condemn him. So Jesus goes out of his way to talk to the people that the Pharisees hated most.
The Samaritans and Jews had a long history of not getting along. The Jews were considered ceremonially unclean if they associated with a Samaritan and they had to do some kind of purification deal in order to be able to participate in society again. So, it was a big stinking deal for Jesus to go out of his way to talk to a Samaritan.
Then on top of that, this woman had had 5 husbands and was currently just shacking up with some dude. Even in our liberal society today, most people would judge a woman like that. 8-O
But Jesus talked to her. The son of God was walking around in the flesh. He had a public ministry for only 3 years. He took the time to climb a mountain and sit and talk to this woman.
It is so cool. It is so opposite of what we expect….until you know Jesus and this is totally what he always does.
He left the crowds of followers and went out of his way to find a completely broken woman who was an outcast among outcasts and he changed her life. He gave her the message of change based on God knowing her heart (or spirit) and changing her from within.
How I wish I could go back in time and answer the question, “what would you do?” with love and compassion for the broken woman sitting beside me struggling, wanting to do better. I wish I had offered the same hope that Jesus offered the woman at the well. I wish I had the insight to talk to her about God seeing her heart and spirit.
In verses 27-38, the disciples return to find Jesus talking to a Samaritan woman. They are all surprised, but have caught on enough to not question Jesus. Jesus, knows that they are wondering what he was up to. He gives a little explanation by talking about the harvest and how one man sows and another reaps. I believe he is referring to the work that God was already doing among the Samaritans. It is obvious based on the woman’s response to what Jesus said, that she was eager to follow God. She had questions, she was seeking answers. Other people had “planted some seeds” in her life.
That is how it works. God leads people to him in many ways. He sees their hearts and knows more than we do. He understands that the woman I judged could have been longing for a relationship with him for years and was just looking for someone to point the way.
The woman at the well eagerly told people about Jesus. I’m sure that people in her town were judgmental of her but she ran and told them about the man she had just met and eagerly wanted them all to know him. They listened and Jesus stayed for two more days and taught them. Which is also pretty stinking cool because they were the outcasts and Jesus hung out with them while the supposed "important" people were waiting to talk to Jesus.
As I read this story, I am so thankful that God gives us grace. I love him so much for seeking the people that this world discards. I want to love like that!!!!