Read John 4:9-26.
Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.”
How Jesus Loved People:
He showed grace. We’ve already examined previously, how just by engaging her to begin with, Jesus showed love and grace to this Samaritan woman at the well. We also touched on how his request for her to give Him a drink was a way to further engage her, and a way to further express love for her. (see previous How to Love Like Jesus posts: Don’t Care and Ask for Help)
So what Jesus is doing here, is He’s building a foundation of love and grace.
Throughout the story He continues building this foundation by revealing Himself to her through conversation about the living water and the Messiah.
Then He shared truth. After, and only after, Jesus builds this foundation of love and grace, do we see Jesus begin to share truth. And even then, we see Him sandwich the first dose of truth between two gracious statements. When she tells Jesus, “I have no husband.” Jesus, rather than railing on her for her past sins of promiscuity, says, “You are right when you say you have no husband.” He then shares His knowledge of her promiscuous lifestyle, followed up by, “What you have just said is quite true.”
He goes on to share with her the truth about Samaritan worship, and the kind of worshippers God seeks, those who worship in Spirit and truth. And He reveals the truth about His identity. Ultimately Jesus shows love to this woman by declaring Himself to her. Speaking of Messiah, Jesus says,
“I, the one speaking to you–I am he.”
How to Love Like Jesus:
A twenty-something I know shared a conversation he had with a good lawyer. Right about now some of you are saying to yourselves, the word good and the word lawyer don’t belong in the same sentence. But this one happens to be a friend of mine, and although good lawyers are a rarity, he really does exist. He’s a skilled lawyer, and beyond that he’s a good person. He has a heart for the underdog, and he strives to do his best for every client. This good lawyer friend of mine said something during the conversation that really surprised me, he said,
The best lawyers are not those who love to win an argument.
When I heard this from the twenty-something, I thought to myself, “I know this can’t be true — because I’ve seen all the lawyer TV shows: Matlock, Boston Legal, Law and Order… Those guys always win the argument. And they seem to relish the courtroom confrontation.
But my friend says the best don’t take pleasure in winning the debate. He says the best are outcome oriented. He says the best don’t look for ways to win the argument, they look for ways to reach the best possible result. At the end of the discussion he made this statement:
“Never confuse pride with principle.”
I had to think about that. How many times did I believe I was standing on principle, when in reality, what I was after was victory and conquest, so I could feed my pride. And this was nearly always at the expense of outcome, and very often at the expense of the relationship.
Contrast that with what we see in our story, which is how unmistakable Jesus’ love is. It’s unmistakable to the reader, and most importantly, it’s unmistakable to the Samaritan woman. And look at the result! She left that conversation to gather up and bring the townspeople to Jesus, and she did it because she knew Jesus loved her. Yes, the truth was shared, but only in the context of Jesus’ love.
So here’s how you and I can love people like Jesus. When you’re sharing truth, it’s essential your love for the person you’re talking with be unmistakable. Unmistakable to you, to any observers, and most importantly to the person you’re sharing with. When you’re sharing truth, the person you’re talking with has to know you love them. When you’re sharing truth, you have to do so with a heart filled with Christ’s love.
Just as soon as your inner jail house lawyer begins to rise up, the outcome you’re looking for goes out the window!
Of course Jesus was a master at sharing truth in love. We’ll see him share this way over and over and over.
You and I have to recognize, while Jesus was a master at this, you and I may not be. (see John 1:20) In fact, I know I am definitely not a master at sharing truth in love. I’m a work in progress, or maybe even a piece of work, depending on the day.
Keeping all of this in mind, if you’re tempted to share truth with someone, and you begin to feel God’s love leaving your heart, you’re better off not sharing at all.
If you begin to feel God’s love leaving your heart, just keep your mouth closed.
If you begin to feel God’s love leaving your heart, consider walking away.
Because if you choose to share without love, it’s likely you’ll only cause that person to become further entrenched in their current position.
But if you share in unmistakable love, you give the Holy Spirit the best possible chance to reach that person.
So build a foundation of grace and love, first. And share truth, only when your love for the person you’re sharing with is unmistakable.
You can too.
If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.
1 Corinthians 13:1
[Image via waterdotorg – Creative Commons]