For years I’d heard the story about the Samaritan woman. You know—she’s the one who’s famous for interacting with Jesus at the water well. She’s also the one with the reputation for being promiscuous. What else would you call a woman who’s had five husbands and is living common-law with a sixth? (John 4:4-30)
Oh, how quickly we jump to conclusions and judge others.
After taking a course on domestic violence, I recanted from my judgmental attitude toward her. I realized that this woman may have been a victim of abuse. Maybe she’d been raised in an environment toxic with domestic violence, and her sense of self-worth was so damaged that she settled for one (pardon the term) scum bag after another because she felt she didn’t deserve anyone decent and kind. Perhaps her journey from man to man was actually a desperate search for a love story with a happy ending. Regardless, Jesus knew every sordid detail, and He looked beyond them to extend grace.
Jesus knew that this woman’s outer lifestyle indicated an inner life in turmoil. He responded by respectfully engaging her in conversation and then offering her the key to healing her brokenness. “I am the Messiah,” He said. “I have a gift for you—the gift of water that will permanently take away your thirst. Drink it, and it will become a perpetual spring within you, giving you eternal life.”
Oh, how we need to learn from Christ’s example.
It’s easy to judge the homeless—“They wouldn’t be in this situation now if they’d never started doing drugs in the first place.”
It’s easy to judge the Christian couple going through separation or divorce—“Their marriage wouldn’t be in this mess today if they hadn’t been so selfish.”
It’s easy to judge those imprisoned for a crime committed—“They wouldn’t be behind bars if they hadn’t done what they did.”
Maybe we need to ask Jesus to help us see people through His eyes. He didn’t gloss over the Samaritan woman’s sin, but neither did He distance Himself from her because of it. Nor did He shake His pointer finger at her and call her a bad person. Rather, He recognized her deepest point of need and offered her the solution for healing.
“Jesus, forgive us for jumping to conclusions about other people and for judging them based on the attitudes and actions we see. Please open our spiritual eyes to see these folks as You see them. Help us to see the root cause for why they’re doing what they’re doing, and to extend grace and mercy as You did for the Samaritan woman. You alone are the answer; You alone bring healing to those who hurt. In Your name, amen.”