Day 125

Three Ways to Transform Your World

Wisdom Proverbs 11:9–18
New Testament John 4:1–26
Old Testament Judges 1:1–2:5


Martin Luther King Jr (1929–1968) lived and died to see society transformed. In 1964, he became the youngest person ever to receive the Nobel Peace Prize – for his work to end social segregation and racial discrimination.

He spoke powerfully and memorably of his dream that, one day, he would live in a nation where his children would ‘not be judged by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character’.

He dreamt of a transformed world where everyone would be able to join hands and say, ‘Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!’

Martin Luther King Jr was a follower of Jesus. His agenda was the kingdom of God. The kingdom of God is not just about the conversion of individuals – important though that is – but about the transformation of society.


Proverbs 11:9–18

9 With their mouths the godless destroy their neighbours,
   but through knowledge the righteous escape.

10 When the righteous prosper, the city rejoices;
   when the wicked perish, there are shouts of joy.

11 Through the blessing of the upright a city is exalted,
   but by the mouth of the wicked it is destroyed.

12 Whoever derides their neighbour has no sense,
   but the one who has understanding holds their tongue.

13 A gossip betrays a confidence,
   but a trustworthy person keeps a secret.

14 For lack of guidance a nation falls,
   but victory is won through many advisers.

15 Whoever puts up security for a stranger will surely suffer,
   but whoever refuses to shake hands in pledge is safe.

16 A kindhearted woman gains honour,
   but ruthless men gain only wealth.

17 Those who are kind benefit themselves,
   but the cruel bring ruin on themselves.

18 A wicked person earns deceptive wages,
   but the one who sows righteousness reaps a sure reward.


1. Be a blessing to your nation

Your life can have an influence, not only on your own family and local community, but also on your city, and even on the whole nation.

The writer of Proverbs makes the point that how we live as individuals affects not only ourselves, but also the world around us – for good or for evil.

On the one hand, ‘when the righteous prosper, the city rejoices’ (v.10). And ‘by the blessing of the influence of the upright and God’s favour [because of them] the city is exalted’ (v.11a, AMP). On the other hand, ‘the mouth of the wicked’ can destroy a city (v.11b). And, ‘for lack of guidance a nation falls’ (v.14).

How then should you live? Don’t slander your neighbours, but rather exercise restraint and hold your tongue (v.12). Don’t gossip but be trustworthy in keeping secrets (v.13).

We all need wise, godly people around us to provide good advice: ‘Where no wise guidance is, the people fall, but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety’ (v.14, AMP). If you have wise counsellors consult them often. If you don’t have them, ask God to provide you with such advisers.

Be kind-hearted (v.16) and sow righteousness (v.18). If you live like this, the whole world around you will be affected.


Lord, help me to be a good influence in my city and in my nation so that I may see the whole world around me transformed.

New Testament

John 4:1–26

Jesus Talks With a Samaritan Woman

4 Now Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that he was gaining and baptizing more disciples than John — 2 although in fact it was not Jesus who baptized, but his disciples. 3 So he left Judea and went back once more to Galilee.

4 Now he had to go through Samaria. 5 So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. 6 Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon.

7 When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” 8 (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)

9 The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)

10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”

11 “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? 12 Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?”

13 Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”

16 He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.”

17 “I have no husband,” she replied.

Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. 18 The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.”

19 “Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet. 20 Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.”

21 “Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22 You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”

25 The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”

26 Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you—I am he.”


2. Break down divisions of every kind

Every church should be an inclusive church because God’s love is radically inclusive. The church should be famous for its love. We should welcome people regardless of their gender, race or lifestyle. Jesus came to break down every barrier in our society.

Jesus’ fame was increasing. ‘The Pharisees were keeping count of the baptisms that he and John performed... They had posted the score that Jesus was ahead, turning him and John into rivals’ (vv.1–2, MSG).

Jesus was not interested in rivalry, fame or competition: ‘When the Lord learned of this, he left Judea and went back once more to Galilee’ (v.3). He was very interested in helping one individual Samaritan. He takes time to minister to her. Mother Teresa said, ‘Never worry about numbers. Help one person at a time, and always start with the person nearest you.’

In this encounter, Jesus demonstrated that one of the ways in which society will be transformed is by the breaking down of divisions.

End the war between the sexes

Jesus had a prolonged conversation with a woman in public. This flew in the face of the conventions of the time. The strict rabbis forbade a rabbi even to greet a woman in public, let alone have a long conversation. When the disciples returned, they were ‘surprised to find him talking with a woman’ (v.27).

As John Stott wrote, ‘Without any fuss or publicity Jesus terminated the curse of the Fall, reinvested woman with her partially lost nobility and reclaimed for his new kingdom community the original creation blessing of sexual equality.’

The sexes should not be at war. As Pope Benedict XVI put it, ‘In Christ the rivalry, enmity and violence which disfigured the relationship between men and women can be overcome and have been overcome.’

End racism, discrimination and apartheid

The division between Jews and Samaritans went back a long way. Samaritans were a despised and powerless minority – pushed down and without value. John explains that ‘Jews in those days wouldn’t be caught dead talking to Samaritans’ (v.9, MSG).

Jesus does not compromise on the truth: ‘Salvation is from the Jews’ (v.22). Nevertheless, he reaches out to this Samaritan woman. In doing so he breaks the curse of racial discrimination and apartheid. The transformation of society requires the breaking down of the walls of division of race and ethnicity.

End class war and social division

God loves you regardless of your previous life or present lifestyle. Thank God, he loves imperfect people.

In asking her for water, Jesus is showing us how to approach people who are broken and wounded – not patronisingly as someone superior but humbly like a beggar.

This woman would have been a social outcast. With a history of broken relationships, rejected and mocked by her own people, she comes to draw water all alone at midday.

Not only did Jesus speak to a woman who was a Samaritan, he spoke with a ‘sinner’. This woman had led an immoral life. ‘You have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband’ (v.18). She has been divorced several times and is now living with a man to whom she is not married. Jesus does not compromise on the truth, but neither does he judge, condemn or reject the Samaritan woman because of her lifestyle or social position (cf. Mark 2:17; John 8:10–11).

The religious did not mix with ‘sinners’. By his interaction with this sexually promiscuous woman, Jesus breaks down yet another barrier. His love reaches to all sections of society – across the barriers of class, lifestyle and social position.

Ultimately, it is only the Holy Spirit who can bring about the transformation of society. It is the Holy Spirit who brings unity, breaking down the divisions of gender, race and social position. Those indwelt by the Holy Spirit should be at the forefront of the fight for gender, racial and social equality.

Jesus’ conversation with this woman was all about the Holy Spirit. She doesn’t need a lecture; she needs living water. He says to her, ‘All who drink this water will be thirsty again, but those who drink the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life’ (vv.13–14).

Jesus came to quench our thirst for acceptance, relationship and meaning. The life we receive is the life we give. We become a source of life for others.

The transformation of society starts with the Holy Spirit transforming our lives. It starts with drinking the water of life, which Jesus gives to everyone who believes in him. When the Holy Spirit comes to live within you he becomes a permanent spring of overflowing water throughout your life and into eternity.

You are transformed by the Holy Spirit and by your personal relationship with God. The word used for ‘worship’ here means ‘to go down on our knees, to draw close in an intimate relationship of love’ – we ‘must worship in spirit and in truth’ (v.24).


Lord, today I come to you and drink your living water. May this water flow out of my heart and transform all my relationships.

Old Testament

Judges 1:1–2:5

Israel Fights the Remaining Canaanites

1 After the death of Joshua, the Israelites asked the LORD, “Who of us is to go up first to fight against the Canaanites? ”

2 The LORD answered, “Judah shall go up; I have given the land into their hands. ”

3 The men of Judah then said to the Simeonites their fellow Israelites, “Come up with us into the territory allotted to us, to fight against the Canaanites. We in turn will go with you into yours.” So the Simeonites went with them.

4 When Judah attacked, the Lord gave the Canaanites and Perizzites into their hands, and they struck down ten thousand men at Bezek. 5 It was there that they found Adoni-Bezek and fought against him, putting to rout the Canaanites and Perizzites. 6 Adoni-Bezek fled, but they chased him and caught him, and cut off his thumbs and big toes.

7 Then Adoni-Bezek said, “Seventy kings with their thumbs and big toes cut off have picked up scraps under my table. Now God has paid me back for what I did to them.” They brought him to Jerusalem, and he died there.

8 The men of Judah attacked Jerusalem also and took it. They put the city to the sword and set it on fire.

9 After that, Judah went down to fight against the Canaanites living in the hill country, the Negev and the western foothills. 10 They advanced against the Canaanites living in Hebron (formerly called Kiriath Arba ) and defeated Sheshai, Ahiman and Talmai. 11 From there they advanced against the people living in Debir (formerly called Kiriath Sepher).

12 And Caleb said, “I will give my daughter Aksah in marriage to the man who attacks and captures Kiriath Sepher.” 13 Othniel son of Kenaz, Caleb’s younger brother, took it; so Caleb gave his daughter Aksah to him in marriage.

14 One day when she came to Othniel, she urged him to ask her father for a field. When she got off her donkey, Caleb asked her, “What can I do for you?”

15 She replied, “Do me a special favour. Since you have given me land in the Negev, give me also springs of water.” So Caleb gave her the upper and lower springs.

16 The descendants of Moses’ father-in-law, the Kenite, went up from the City of Palms with the people of Judah to live among the inhabitants of the Desert of Judah in the Negev near Arad.

17 Then the men of Judah went with the Simeonites their fellow Israelites and attacked the Canaanites living in Zephath, and they totally destroyed the city. Therefore it was called Hormah. 18 Judah also took Gaza, Ashkelon and Ekron—each city with its territory.

19 The LORD was with the men of Judah. They took possession of the hill country, but they were unable to drive the people from the plains, because they had chariots fitted with iron. 20 As Moses had promised, Hebron was given to Caleb, who drove from it the three sons of Anak. 21 The Benjamites, however, did not drive out the Jebusites, who were living in Jerusalem; to this day the Jebusites live there with the Benjamites.

22 Now the tribes of Joseph attacked Bethel, and the LORD was with them. 23 When they sent men to spy out Bethel (formerly called Luz), 24 the spies saw a man coming out of the city and they said to him, “Show us how to get into the city and we will see that you are treated well. ” 25 So he showed them, and they put the city to the sword but spared the man and his whole family. 26 He then went to the land of the Hittites, where he built a city and called it Luz, which is its name to this day.

27 But Manasseh did not drive out the people of Beth Shan or Taanach or Dor or Ibleam or Megiddo and their surrounding settlements, for the Canaanites were determined to live in that land. 28 When Israel became strong, they pressed the Canaanites into forced labour but never drove them out completely. 29 Nor did Ephraim drive out the Canaanites living in Gezer, but the Canaanites continued to live there among them. 30 Neither did Zebulun drive out the Canaanites living in Kitron or Nahalol, so these Canaanites lived among them, but Zebulun did subject them to forced labour. 31 Nor did Asher drive out those living in Akko or Sidon or Ahlab or Akzib or Helbah or Aphek or Rehob. 32 The Asherites lived among the Canaanite inhabitants of the land because they did not drive them out. 33 Neither did Naphtali drive out those living in Beth Shemesh or Beth Anath ; but the Naphtalites too lived among the Canaanite inhabitants of the land, and those living in Beth Shemesh and Beth Anath became forced labourers for them. 34 The Amorites confined the Danites to the hill country, not allowing them to come down into the plain. 35 And the Amorites were determined also to hold out in Mount Heres, Aijalon and Shaalbim, but when the power of the tribes of Joseph increased, they too were pressed into forced labour. 36 The boundary of the Amorites was from Scorpion Pass to Sela and beyond.

The Angel of the Lord at Bokim

2 The angel of the LORD went up from Gilgal to Bokim and said, “I brought you up out of Egypt and led you into the land I swore to give to your ancestors. I said, ‘I will never break my covenant with you, 2 and you shall not make a covenant with the people of this land, but you shall break down their altars. ’ Yet you have disobeyed me. Why have you done this? 3 And I have also said, ‘I will not drive them out before you; they will become traps for you, and their gods will become snares to you.’”

4 When the angel of the LORD had spoken these things to all the Israelites, the people wept aloud, 5 and they called that place Bokim. There they offered sacrifices to the LORD.


3. Cry out to God for good leadership

We live in a disordered and chaotic world – in some ways not very different to the world described in the book of Judges.

Entering the book of Judges is quite a shock. We find a mix of violence, rape, massacre, brutality, deceit and mayhem. We see how the people failed to get a grip on idolatry and sin when they settled in the promised land. Despite God’s warnings, they compromised with the religious and ethical practices of the people around them (2:1–2). Who then became ‘thorns in [their] sides and... a snare to [them]’ (v.3).

God calls you to be utterly ruthless about the bad stuff. He does not want us to compromise. He does not want you simply to cut down the areas of your life that you know are wrong, but to cut them out completely and ruthlessly.

The people found themselves in a cycle of disobedience, being oppressed by their enemies, then crying out to God for help.

God answered by sending them judges (leaders). He used all kinds of rather unlikely people as leaders – which gives great encouragement to us all. Empowered by the Holy Spirit, these leaders delivered them and transformed their world.


Lord, please raise up good leaders in our city and in our culture who will transform our world and bring honour to the name of Jesus.

Pippa adds

In John 4, we see that, of all the people Jesus could have spent time with, he chose the lowest of the low – the Samaritan woman. In Jesus’ upside-down kingdom, he gives dignity to those who have none.



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Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI), ‘Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Collaboration of Men and Women in the Church and in the World’ (2004) from The Offices of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith,

John Stott, Issues Facing Christians Today, Fourth edition (Zondervan, 2006), p.331.

Eugene Peterson, The Message (NavPress, 2005), p.292.

The Bible with Nicky and Pippa Gumbel (commentary formerly known as Bible in One Year) ©Alpha International 2009. All Rights Reserved.

Compilation of daily Bible readings © Hodder & Stoughton Limited 1988. Published by Hodder & Stoughton Limited as the Bible in One Year.

Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version Anglicised, Copyright © 1979, 1984, 2011 Biblica, formerly International Bible Society. Used by permission of Hodder & Stoughton Publishers, an Hachette UK company. All rights reserved. ‘NIV’ is a registered trademark of Biblica. UK trademark number 1448790.

Scripture quotations marked (AMP) taken from the Amplified® Bible, Copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. (

Scripture quotations marked MSG are taken from The Message, copyright © 1993, 2002, 2018 by Eugene H. Peterson. Used by permission of NavPress. All rights reserved. Represented by Tyndale House Publishers.

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