There was a really TV show commercial that came on last night while our family was watching Big Brother together. The Big Brother show gives us opportunities to pause the show and talk together about how people act towards each other, try to manipulate each other, etc. We focus on teaching the principal “wise as a serpent, harmless as a dove” to prepare our daughter and ourselves for what this world might throw at us. This particular commercial was about “thirsty people” being put together on a reality show (not my words of judgement — the actual premise of the show Too Hot to Handle), and the three of us all had a gut reaction of “ugg, that looks horrible” — 0 stars, I do NOT recommend.
I mention this, because a friend Ashley Pridgeon Palmer highlighted verses in the Bible app that really caught my attention this morning:
On the last day, the climax of the festival, Jesus stood and shouted to the crowds, “Anyone who is thirsty may come to me! Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.’” (When he said “living water,” he was speaking of the Spirit, who would be given to everyone believing in him. But the Spirit had not yet been given, because Jesus had not yet entered into his glory.)
John 7:37-39 NLT
“Thirsty” is a trendy buzzword for people who are excessively seeking attention for themselves:
For example, if I were sharing things on this website to get attention, compliments, respect, and honor from others, that would make me thirsty for validation from others. Or if I’m overflowing with awe and wonder at what God is revealing and teaching me through His Word, that would be the opposite of thirsty. The difference is because my worth and value is founded in Christ (not in how others see me) and I share out of gratitude and amazement (not in trying to ingratiate myself to others).
Jesus was speaking figuratively (much like the TV commercial was when they were talking about “thirsty” people), and we see this definition for Strong’s G1372 “dipsao” (which is the word used in this verse) in the earliest manuscripts recording the book of John for us:
Thirsting is like itching — it is “painfully feeling want”. And when people thirst (in the common sense of the word), it is a body’s physical response to the need for pure, clean water to insure the continued healthy operation of the body. The body’s need is for the perfect and pure water, because that is what will be used inside the body for nourishment. But an out of control thirst — like in the example of people stranded at sea with no immediate access to fresh water — can lead people to drink unhealthy things in an attempt to satisfy the thirst, ignoring the actual need.
Figuratively speaking, everyone has a thirst for a restored relationship with God. But many only know they are thirsty “for more”, they do not really know what they need. So they find all kinds of other ways to try and cure the thirst — money, success, attention, reputation, sex, physical fitness, education, good works, etc. But these types of things only dull the thirst temporarily, and do not eliminate or cure the thirst.
And when the thirst presses us towards these things in excess, they no longer help us but hurt us. And the trick isn’t to get really good at balancing all of the spinning plates — in fact, there is no trick at all. We simply need the pure, perfect cure on the inside. This is what Jesus is talking about.
And He doesn’t just say that you can come and drink and that it will cure your own thirst — but that rivers of life giving water will flow from your heart. This life giving water isn’t just for you, but it is for others as well.
And it isn’t so that we can talk about it and gather followers and attention for ourselves (because God gets all the glory). And it isn’t so that we can profit from it for ourselves (because we aren’t meant to be like the money changers in the temple).
It is so that we can be made alive by the power of the Holy Spirit. And it is for the glory of God.
Lord, you are the pure and perfect and holy that we crave, we need, we hunger and thirst for. Help us to not settle for any substitute for You. Forgive us for the many times that we have foolishly accepted substitutes. Forgive us for the many times we have sought to glorify ourselves instead of you. Help us to produce untainted, healthy water from you that is a blessing to those thirsty for a taste of your goodness. You protect us and strengthen us in our every time of need, so help us to trust in your purpose and plan. You are faithful and trustworthy. May all the world see that you are worthy of all praise and honor and glory. May your children hear the call to come and drink, and to overflow with your Holy Spirit. Amen.