The premise of these books is that relationships grow better when we understand each other, because everyone gives and receives love differently. I had never really thought much about this until I heard it spelled out, but it makes complete sense! The five “love languages” Chapman identifies are Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Gifts, Quality Time, and Physical Touch. I’m sure it won’t take you long to figure out which applies to you once you see these options! Knowing and understanding another person’s needs certainly helps us to communicate our love better.
As the Creator of every living thing, God knows the individual needs of each of His creatures, including you and me. We might feel we have different needs from one day to the next on a practical, emotional, mental or physical level, but, as the One who made us, God knew even before time began the one overwhelming, desperate need every single person would have, and He also knew just how to communicate His love in order to fulfil that need – it was by the giving of an indescribable Gift (2 Corinthians 9:15)!
It came as a surprise to me that the first mention of “the gift of God” in the New Testament is in the story of the woman at Sychar’s Well in John chapter 4. To give a little background to the story, Jesus and His disciples were on their way from Judea to Galilee and it says He “needed to go through Samaria”. His disciples had left Him to rest at a well outside the city of Sychar, because He was tired after a long walk, while they went to buy food. A woman came to the well and Jesus asked her to give Him a drink of water. The woman was surprised and asked Jesus why He, being a Jew, would ask her, a Samaritan, for a drink of water, since the Jews typically had no dealings with the Samaritans. His reply to her begins with a phrase which became stuck in my mind – He said “If you knew the gift of God . . .” (v.10).
My children often torment me with “what if” questions knowing that I’m not a fan of such speculation, but this is a kind of “what if” question that is well worth considering! Jesus said to the woman “if you knew the gift of God and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ YOU would have asked HIM and HE would have given YOU LIVING water”! What in the world did He mean? What was the “gift of God” He was referring to, and what was the “living” water? The poor woman didn’t have the remotest idea who this Man was. She had no idea that the very Creator of the universe was sitting before her. Not only did she not know who He was, she also had no clue what He was able to give her, or how she was able to receive it.
The conversation that followed is a classic example of two people talking at cross purposes – He was clearly speaking on a spiritual level, while she was thinking only in practical terms. We know this because she is confused about how He could possibly give her any kind of water since He didn’t have a pot or bucket with which to draw it! You can hear the indignation in her voice as she questioned if He thought He was greater than the patriarch Jacob who built the well in the first place! Jesus explained that by drinking the “water” that He had to offer she would never again be thirsty. Of course He was not talking about literal water, but spiritual water – that is, eternal life. He was able to give her eternal life! The woman still didn’t understand, though, and was eager to have some of the miracle water so that she would never have to come to the well and carry heavy water pots home ever again!
In the next part of the story in a roundabout way Jesus started to get her to understand His real identity. He did this by astounding her with His detailed knowledge of her life, which no ordinary stranger could possibly have had. She had an understanding that a Messiah (the Christ) was going to come, and that when He came He would tell “all things” and it is at this point that Jesus revealed to her that that was exactly who He was – the Messiah. It’s so exciting to watch as the realisation dawned on her, and she couldn’t keep it to herself! She ran back into the city without even taking her waterpot, told the men there, “Come, see a Man who told me all things that I ever did” and asked the question, “Could this be the Christ?” After all, that’s what she had said the Messiah would do when He came – tell “all things”.
As a result the men went back with her to see for themselves the One she spoke of, and many of them believed too, not just because of what she told them, but because they heard Him for themselves and knew for a fact that He was indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world. He was the One whose birth the shepherds outside of Bethlehem were told about by the angels – “there is born to you . . . in the city of David a SAVIOUR, who is CHRIST the LORD!” (Luke 2:11). He was the One whom the Wise Men travelled thousands of miles to come and worship. He was the One whom the old man Simeon had been waiting for his whole life, and when he saw the 8-day-old baby Jesus he said, “Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace . . . for my eyes have seen Your SALVATION!” (Luke 2:29).
IF YOU KNEW THE GIFT OF GOD! There is nothing more exciting in the world than when someone comes to a realisation about who Jesus really is, rather than just knowing facts about Him: that He was born in Bethlehem, that He lived a good life, that He was a good teacher and gave great advice, even that He died on a cross. That knowledge in itself is not enough for us to have a personal relationship with God – that isn’t knowing the “gift of God”, and will not give you eternal life. John tells us in chapter 17 of his Gospel, “THIS is eternal life, that they may know YOU, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (v.3).
What we need to know and understand first is why He was sent into this world – it was to save sinners, and we know by experience that includes everyone! It’s true He was born as a baby in Bethlehem, but the purpose of His birth was so that He could die and rise again. It doesn’t seem to make much sense to the logical human mind, but John also tells us in chapter 3 of his Gospel, in what is probably the most famous verse in the whole Bible (v.16), that “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” – eternal life – the LIVING WATER that Jesus offered to the woman at the well! Jesus had to die so that we wouldn’t have to.
That doesn’t mean that we won’t die physically, but it does mean that ultimately we can look forward to an eternity in heaven IF we truly know the gift of God, i.e., IF we not only believe ABOUT Jesus, but believe that He is the Son of God, that He died and rose again, that He is the only Saviour and the only way we can have a relationship and eternal future with God.
The giving of His beloved Son was the ultimate expression of God’s love for fallen humanity. He knows us because He made us, and He wants everyone to accept the gift He offers. If you know the gift of God – the Son of God, who died and rose again so that you might live – your problems won’t all of a sudden disappear, but you will have something else that is a gift from God to those who trust in Him, and that is the peace that passes understanding. The apostle John records the words of Jesus to His disciples in one of the most comforting chapters in the Bible, and it’s a verse every true Christian can cling to in these turbulent times in which we live: “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27).
Photo credit: Dhaya Eddine Bentaleb