If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.

Throughout this Lent we are delving into the problem of sin and are using our study to set strategies that move us from hard-hearted self-centeredness and spiritual shortcoming to a life deep in line with the life of Jesus. Walking through the seven deadly sins and their antidote, the seven contrary virtues, we find what is required of us. In doing what is required we grow stronger. Having grown stronger, we will walk out of Lent armed with God’s grace and we will overcome!

We have covered pride and envy. Today we will focus on gluttony and lust, two closely related deadly sins. Both have to do with inordinate desire – for more than we require and for the pleasures of the body.

Look at our world right now, right here, locally. Gluttony and lust have taken hold – just look at the paper products, hand sanitizer, or the bread aisle in stores. We need to practice the contrary virtues of abstinence and chastity, a self-denial that raises Christ above all things. Putting Jesus first and trusting in Him shows the world where our great love lives.

Jesus encounters the Samaritan woman at a well. Through their talk Jesus draws out her confession. He presents her with the chance for living water – His baptism, word, and forgiveness. She is shocked, for Jesus tells her everything she had done. Those tough sins of gluttony and lust that had controlled her life were laid bare. Her encounter with Jesus bore fruit, for people came to encounter Jesus through her testimony – and they evolved in their faith. Now, no longer reliant on her word alone, they came to know Jesus personally and to personally experience His living water.

Now is the time to witness. It must not be a witness of sin, but of virtue. We need to show our reliance on and faith in God, the truth of His word, sacraments, and His living water. We need to offer His living water to a scared and sinful world. We need to be truthful, that we are not in control. We can and should take steps, but none of that puts us in charge. God is in control regardless of whether we see it or not. We need to pray for non-believers around the world. Pray that in this time they be protected and that they come to know Jesus’ living water by our faith witness. Fear and worry are not the mark of a true Christian. Instead, let us have a faith that conquers worry and a peace beyond understanding. If Lent is about living our faith more truly, then this is the test. Now is the time to get it right and to be right with God. Like the Samaritan woman, let us hear His voice and open our hearts, let us tell of our encounter with the living water, for that will lead others to Jesus, and in the end, will be what saves us.

Bewildered, convicted,

The woman left her water jar and went into the town and said to the people, “Come see a man who told me everything I have done. Could he possibly be the Christ?”

This Lent we continue our focus on the fruits of conviction. Because of our jealousies and selfishness, we face God’s conviction. In our weakness, we chose desire over faithfulness, temporary and fleeting satisfaction over eternal joy, conflict over peace, labor over work, shame, worry, cares, and threats. If we accept our conviction and plead guilty we are given access to the full treasury of God’s grace that starts with His forgiveness, the washing away of our sin.

As new people in Jesus our conviction moves from the conviction of guilt to a conviction in righteousness. We live in the assurance of God’s blessing and become all that God has called us to be.

The story of the nameless Samaritan woman at the well, recorded only in the Gospel of John, is a revealing one, full of many truths and powerful lessons.

This was an extraordinary woman. She was a Samaritan, a race of people that the Jews utterly despised as having no claim on their God, and she was an outcast and looked down upon by her own people. This woman was not welcome at the well while the other women were there – she had to come alone. She was ostracized and marked as immoral, an unmarried woman living openly with the sixth in a series of men.

What happens with this woman is a perfect parallel to the experience of all people. Her conviction by both Jews and her own people was tough to bear. She may have felt terrible about it, yet she refused to admit – really admit – her sin. She persisted in it. Yet God waits to meet her.

Jesus waited for her. Jesus meets her at the well as He meets us when we are in sin and desperate. He is there, even if we haven’t fully accepted our conviction, waiting.

In their conversation, Jesus opens the truths of His care – these truths apply to all of us. He cares, so He encounters us and speaks to us. He has something to give us that no one else can give – living water, truth that gives life. He teaches us about right worship – stemming from Sprit and truth; not just form or function or place. He knows our reality and He holds it up to us asking us to accept conviction – because in the end, we are asked to be honest. He values us enough to not just seek us, but to give us the freedom of choice; conviction or excuse. Like us, she had a choice. Like us, the gifts awaited.

The woman came to recognize God – more than the disciples had. All from one encounter. She went from bewilderment at this encounter, to conviction, to acceptance, to finally witnessing and drawing her community to Jesus. She was saved, fruit from conviction.