Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.”
By Jim Cymbala
In the Old Testament, where there was no water, there was no life. People died during droughts. Likewise, unless the living water of the Spirit is flowing in us, we and our churches will have an absence of spiritual life and little vitality. Just as in the Mojave Desert, no water equals no life, no growth, and no fruit. We can attend church regularly and have perfect doctrine, but without the Holy Spirit to water us, we will wither and die.
Jesus talked openly about the life-giving properties of the Spirit. “On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, ‘Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them’” (John 7:37-38). By “rivers of living water,” Jesus was referring to the Spirit that believers would later receive.
When the Spirit of God comes, we have new life. Without the Spirit of God, we’re left to struggle with our self-effort, which is riddled by moral weakness and sinful tendencies. But when the Spirit comes, we have joy, hope, and power. Notice that Jesus doesn’t refer to a drop of water but to “rivers of living water.” Like a river, the Spirit flows — a force of power that comes into us and then flows out so we can be a blessing to others.
God uses water as a symbol of the Holy Spirit in a slightly different way when He says, “I will be like the dew to Israel; he will blossom like a lily” (Hosea 14:5). We all have witnessed the grass and flowers glistening with tiny drops of refreshing water. By using this metaphor, God is saying He will be like the dew, which settles quietly in the night and coats the ground by morning. Dew can’t form when conditions are too hot or the wind is too strong. Likewise, we can’t be refreshed by God when we’re too busy running around.