Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions.
In Part 1, I introduced this topic that affects so many people—that of feeling inferior, or not as good as others. It seems that Prince Charles felt inferior to Diana—she was always the centre of attention, photographed by the press, and loved by the public.
Perhaps when you went to school, you were the shy kid standing alone in the playground not wanting to play with anyone because you felt you were ugly or dressed in old or unattractive clothes. Perhaps your parents couldn’t afford shoes, so you convinced yourself you were no good.
Many people today grapple with an inferiority complex. Psychologists tell us that every person who has ever lived has an inferiority complex to some degree. If we allow our thoughts to be clogged with negative concepts about ourselves, we will suffer. And end up feeling useless, with no abilities and no potential.
The Despised Samaritan Woman
In the Bible we come across a woman with a big inferiority complex. She was a Samaritan woman who met Jesus in a story we read in John chapter 4. She belonged to a despised race, a displaced race that was despised by their neighbours, the Jews. Every morning a Jewish man would pray, Blessed be thou, O God, that thou has not made me a woman. But one hot day, we see Jesus talking to her at a well. It must have been a shock for this Jewish Rabbi to speak to her. It just didn’t happen—her role in life was to wait on men.
She had no permanent status or security. Her life was in a mess. She knew it and so did Jesus. He came straight to the point in that conversation: “You have had five men, and the one you have now is not your husband” (John 4:18). In her own community she was an outcast, an evil woman, which is why she was at the well at midday on her own. The other women had already been there, to avoid seeing her I suppose. But Jesus didn’t condemn or make her feel worse—she already felt inferior.
He talked to her quietly about life, and about water, because they were sitting at a well. “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but those who drink of the water of life that I will give them will never be thirsty…it will become in them a spring of water gushing up into eternal life” (verses 13-14). He was offering her eternal life, but she didn’t quite understand. She thought he meant a location or place to worship. He told her that God is spirit and we must worship in spirit and truth (verses 23-24). She continued to ask questions, and then said something very revealing: “I know that the Messiah is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us” (verse 25). The Samaritans expected a Messiah who would bring in the golden age for their nation, a liberator.
Everyone Knew She Had Met the True Messiah
The problem over the years has been that people have looked for their own Messiah: the Germans expected Hitler to solve their problems; Russians looked to Lenin and Stalin. The Jews of Jesus’ day expected a Jewish Messiah who would drive out the Romans and make Jerusalem the spiritual, cultural and commercial centre of the world. But they were mistaken. And this woman on a hot day suddenly realised she was talking to the one who could remove her sense of inferiority. Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he” (verse 36).
She was sitting in front of the true Messiah, the Christ, who had the words of eternal life. She couldn’t believe her ears. John tells us she left her water jar there at the well and went back to her town and told everyone: “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Christ? They came out of the town and made their way towards him” (verses 28-30). This wonderful story ends with many of the Samaritans from that town believing in him because of the woman’s testimony (verse 39).
Here was a despised woman totally changed because of her encounter with Jesus. Once she viewed herself as inferior. Now everyone in her town knew she had met the Messiah. She and they would never be the same again. Doesn’t it make us realise that everyone is valuable to Jesus? He was tired and thirsty that day after travelling a long way, and yet he took time to speak to someone with no feeling of self-worth, someone who felt inferior and unwanted. That was over 2,000 years ago, but today there are many feeling like that. Jesus offered us his Spirit to make us confident and focused in life.