We love to count. It is one of the first things we were taught to do as toddlers. “How many fingers are you”, we say to little ones. We count how many minutes we have to get out the door for work or school. We count how many minutes we have until school is over for the day or our work is finished and we punch out on our timecards. We count how many minutes until mealtime. Then, on the way home, we count the minutes it will take to prepare the meal, eat it, clean up after it, then get the kids to bed so we can begin the process all over again the next morning. We even count after setting the alarm with how many hours/minutes we might have to sleep if we close our eyes and drift off right then! I could go on, but you get the picture. Yes, counting seems to be an inbred, human habit.
We count in every part of our lives. Today, we are given a perfect example of counting from the Pharisees in the first part of our story that many might miss because we quicky jump to the familiar and powerful “woman at the well” story. These words leaped off the page for me this morning and made me laugh out loud! The religious leaders COUNTED the baptisms John and Jesus disciples performed!! What?! They didn’t count to report on a statistical report as all churches do today, but they counted to keep score! (Do we do that? Surely not!) The Pharisees counted for the sole purpose to cause division among the new believers! They pitted John against Jesus–and Jesus’ group was winning.
The Pharisees turned a Holy Moment of commitment into a competition.
Satan loves it when we count and compete in order to divide the saints. Ouch.
Jesus would have no part of this “counting for competition” and left the area. In our story, Jesus explains what God counts. Not only is Jesus the “living water” that quenches our spiritual thirst forever, knows our hearts, and restores our relationship with God; we should not and cannot miss what counts with God in daily living for Him.
John 4:1-30, MSG
The Woman at the Well
1-3 Jesus realized that the Pharisees were keeping count of the baptisms that he and John performed (although his disciples, not Jesus, did the actual baptizing). They had posted the score that Jesus was ahead, turning him and John into rivals in the eyes of the people. So Jesus left the Judean countryside and went back to Galilee.
4-6 To get there, he had to pass through Samaria. He came into Sychar, a Samaritan village that bordered the field Jacob had given his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was still there. Jesus, worn out by the trip, sat down at the well. It was noon.
7-8 A woman, a Samaritan, came to draw water. Jesus said, “Would you give me a drink of water?” (His disciples had gone to the village to buy food for lunch.)
9 The Samaritan woman, taken aback, asked, “How come you, a Jew, are asking me, a Samaritan woman, for a drink?” (Jews in those days wouldn’t be caught dead talking to Samaritans.)
10 Jesus answered, “If you knew the generosity of God and who I am, you would be asking me for a drink, and I would give you fresh, living water.”
11-12 The woman said, “Sir, you don’t even have a bucket to draw with, and this well is deep. So how are you going to get this ‘living water’? Are you a better man than our ancestor Jacob, who dug this well and drank from it, he and his sons and livestock, and passed it down to us?”
13-14 Jesus said, “Everyone who drinks this water will get thirsty again and again. Anyone who drinks the water I give will never thirst—not ever. The water I give will be an artesian spring within, gushing fountains of endless life.”
15 The woman said, “Sir, give me this water so I won’t ever get thirsty, won’t ever have to come back to this well again!”
16 He said, “Go call your husband and then come back.”
17-18 “I have no husband,” she said.
“That’s nicely put: ‘I have no husband.’ You’ve had five husbands, and the man you’re living with now isn’t even your husband. You spoke the truth there, sure enough.”
19-20 “Oh, so you’re a prophet! Well, tell me this: Our ancestors worshiped God at this mountain, but you Jews insist that Jerusalem is the only place for worship, right?”
21-23 “Believe me, woman, the time is coming when you Samaritans will worship the Father neither here at this mountain nor there in Jerusalem. You worship guessing in the dark; we Jews worship in the clear light of day. God’s way of salvation is made available through the Jews. But the time is coming—it has, in fact, come—when what you’re called will not matter and where you go to worship will not matter.
23-24 “It’s who you are and the way you live that count before God. Your worship must engage your spirit in the pursuit of truth. That’s the kind of people the Father is out looking for: those who are simply and honestly themselves before him in their worship. God is sheer being itself—Spirit. Those who worship him must do it out of their very being, their spirits, their true selves, in adoration.”
25 The woman said, “I don’t know about that. I do know that the Messiah is coming. When he arrives, we’ll get the whole story.”
26 “I am he,” said Jesus. “You don’t have to wait any longer or look any further.”
27 Just then his disciples came back. They were shocked. They couldn’t believe he was talking with that kind of a woman. No one said what they were all thinking, but their faces showed it.
28-30 The woman took the hint and left. In her confusion she left her water pot. Back in the village she told the people, “Come see a man who knew all about the things I did, who knows me inside and out. Do you think this could be the Messiah?” And they went out to see for themselves.
WHAT GOD COUNTS…
“It’s who you are and the way you live that count before God. Your worship must engage your spirit in the pursuit of truth. That’s the kind of people the Father is out looking for: those who are simply and honestly themselves before him in their worship. God is sheer being itself—Spirit. Those who worship him must do it out of their very being, their spirits, their true selves, in adoration.” –Jesus
Then woman responds with, “I don’t know about that” but she soon learns that she has been with Jesus, the Messiah and will begin to see what really counts with God. Jesus loved her, taught her what really counts with God and gave her so much hope that her sarcasm soon turned to joy by the end of the conversation! She left her old life for a new life with what really counts for eternity! Wow!
We do know that her “Come and see” testimony led a village to Christ!
What do we count in our own lives as important?
Do our lives reflect what counts with God, permeating our lives each day?
Do we worship God with all that is in us in every part of our “counting” day?
Do we reserve our worship for special occasions only?
Are we sarcastic?
Paul helps us understand what daily worship of God with our very lives entails;
“So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you”. Romans 12:1-2, MSG
Maybe we should stop counting and competing as the world does and ENGAGE with what counts with God by the power of His Holy Spirit.
Dear Lord and Savior,
Wow, you are so good and patient! What a great teacher you are as well as the One who saves us from our sins along with world thinking, counting, and behaving. We certainly have not arrived, but we have learned more about what counts with you again today. Thank you, Lord. Continue to transform me to be all you created me to be. I love you with all that is in me. I’m yours.
In Jesus Name, Amen Worship God in Spirit and Truth. You know