For My people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, to hew for themselves cisterns, broken cisterns that can hold no water.
If religion is a broken cistern—a shattered reservoir that can't hold water—why do so many people try to drink from it? First Samuel 16:7 answers, "Man looks at the outward appearance but the Lord looks at the heart." That is, man runs to religion because it makes him look and feel better.
The heart is passionate about creating appearances, like a quartz that masquerades as a diamond, or "fools gold" which has false value. It gives people the impression that they are good, while veiling their inner evil.
Religion is the greatest impostor the world has ever known.
Imagine stumbling into a run-down farmyard: windswept, barren, and nothing more than hard, dry ground. But there is a well, with a wooden platform and a rusty old pump. You are dying of thirst and step onto the platform, anxiously beginning to pump the handle. It squeaks and complains with every push and pull. After five minutes—nothing but air. After fifteen minutes of sweating, coaxing, pleading, there is still nothing . . . the well is dry.
Let me tell you what the institution of religion has done: It has scraped all the rust off the pump handle and painted it bright red. Better yet, it has replaced the old handle with a shiny brass one which gleams brilliantly as the sun strikes it. Flowers have been planted around the well and a pleasant path has been marked out through the farmyard so people can come from all around. People do indeed come; they gaze; they marvel; they rhapsodize; and they decide to build a platform, put up a pump, plant some flowers, and lay a stone path. But there is no water!
You may say, "But I know people who aren't Christians and yet, are committed to their families, are ethical in business, and are moral, upright citizens. How can you say that their religion is devoid of the water of life?"
This is a fair question, but we must remember that religion focuses on the work of the hands, while ignoring the sin of the heart.
David says in Psalm 14:2-3, "The Lord has looked down from heaven upon the sons of men to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. They have all turned aside, together they have become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one." God has seen what lies beneath man's facade, and He is far from impressed.
Are you satisfying your spiritual thirst with the living water of a relationship with Christ, or are you still painting broken pump handles? Christians can do it too, you know— getting more caught up in reputation than in a relationship to God. We draw from broken cisterns when we care more about what the world thinks of us than what God thinks of us.
Christian friend, even though you have already tasted of Christ's life-giving stream, you must quench your constant thirst and draw from the right well. Allow His Word to satisfy . . . nothing else will.
Prayer Point: Christ says in John 7:38 that "He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.' " Thank the Lord for offering that living water to you and for reviving your thirsty soul. Then confess all the broken cisterns you have been running to for satisfaction, rather than Christ.
Extra Refreshment: Read John 4:1-51—a beautiful story of a sinner who drinks the living water of Christ and is made well.
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