The woman said to him, Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come here to draw.
The spirit of the second reason for this request animates men to this day. The prevalent disposition is to seek religious benefit in some way which does not involve endeavour and responsibility.
I. MEN DO NOT EXPECT PHYSICAL RESULTS EXCEPT BY APPROPRIATE EFFORT. Parents do not pray that God would inspire their boys with a useful trade. They apprentice them and pray God that they may attend to their business and take proper steps to learn. Skill of hand is to be developed by training and not by praying. There are those who still speak of luck, but the number decreases with intelligence and enterprise.
II. MEN DO NOT LOOK FOR INTELLECTUAL RESULTS EXCEPT BY THE APPLICATION OF MEANS TO ENDS.
1. We never pray for general knowledge, nor teach our children to do so; but to use their eyes and ears, to keep company with intelligent persons. And this is not inconsistent with the prayer that God will sustain us in the exertion of our natural faculties. So no one prays for books, or the results of professional skill without the drill which leads to them.
2. There is one apparent exception, that of genius. But genius is only what belongs to one whose organization is so fine and large that it acts by its own stimulus. If on the art side, we have an art genius. A man is a genius in the direction in which his faculties are highly organized. Such work more easily than others, but they have to work much. The eagle moves faster and easier than the ant, but both move by the same (muscular) power. And the greatest geniuses in poetry (Milton), in music (Handel), in war (Frederick and Napoleon), have been the hardest workers.
III. BUT MEN DO LOOK FOR RELIGIOUS RESULTS WITHOUT PERSONAL EFFORT.
1. There is an impression that God works irresistibly by His Spirit, and that the distinguishing qualities of Christian life fall down upon us of their own accord like dewdrops on the flowers. Now we must pray for everything that it is proper for us to have, for the highest as well as for the lowest; but there is no more reason that we should pray for morality than for corn, for meekness than for flowers.
2. Religiousness is rightmindedness towards God and man. To be religious is to act in accordance with the laws of the mind from the highest to the lowest of its endowments. I should have, of course, no hope as a minister without a belief in the all-prevalent vitalizing Spirit, and should as soon attempt to raise flowers where there was no atmosphere, and fruits without light and heat, as to regenerate men without the Holy Ghost. Nevertheless this Divine influence is not irresistible in such a sense as to relieve men from the responsibility of developing every one of the spiritual elements. God wakes up the soul and then says, "Work out what I work in" (Philippians 2:12, 13).
3. Conversion is not a completed work. Here is a lazy vagabond, depending on his relations, and he is taken to the West and put upon 150 acres of ground and told to work out his own living. The ground is not converted yet; but he goes to work and brings it under cultivation. He has been converted from a street beggar into a man of means and respectability; but his own conversion is no more complete than that of his farm. When a man is converted he has a new start and has to go forward. If a man, therefore, expects there is any labour-saving conversion he is greatly mistaken.
4. Conversion makes a man a disciple, and places him in Christ's school, where he has to learn and place himself under discipline. And the experiences of Christ's school are not to be had by prayer only. If an intemperate man wants to be temperate, a passionate man meek, a proud man humble, he must not only pray, but tame himself.
(H. W. Beecher.)
Parallel VersesKJV: The woman saith unto him, Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw.