A Parable of Two “Waters”
A man was dying in the desert when he came upon a tent. Inside the tent were two people. One of those people appeared friendly, warm, and inviting. The other person appeared ugly, cold and repulsive. In front of both people were large baskets and inside one of those baskets was life-giving water, but inside the other basket was deadly poison. The one who appeared friendly said, “Come and drink the water that is in my basket.” Then the ugly person said, “No, he is a liar. Do not drink of that bowl for it contains poison.” The friendly person replies, “I can’t believe that you are so unloving and impatient. Can’t you see this man is thirsty? Can’t you see that he needs a drink? Where is your love and compassion for this man?” So the dying man asked, “Do you know if there is water in your basket?” The “friendly” man replied, “I don’t claim to know everything, I’m just on a journey like everyone else.” The dying man asked the other, “Do you know if there is water in your basket?” He replied, “Yes, I know there is water in my basket.” Then the “friendly” person says, “I can’t believe that you would be so arrogant as to claim that you have the only water in your basket.” The friendly man turned to the dying man and said, “Surely you are an educated man who understands that we are all in this journey together and that there is not really anything that we can truly know.” The unattractive person replied, “If you drink of the bowl that he offers, you will die.” The attractive person responded, “I can’t believe that you would be so self righteous as to think that someone would die from drinking out of my bowl. Do you think that I am some kind of idiot or fool? Where is your love, your compassion, your concern for this poor soul?” He replied, “I love this man enough to tell him the truth. I want him to live. If he will but drink of the bowl that is in my basket he will.” Then he turned to the dying man and said, “Why don’t you test both substances with this litmus paper and see which is which.” The attractive person said, “I can’t believe you would ask him to do that. I’m offended that you would even suggest such.” Then he turned to the dying man and said, “If you do that, then I will be offended.” So being persuaded by the words of the attractive person who obviously loves him (after all he knew because of his pleasant and loving appearance, didn’t he?), he drank together with him of his bowl, but before the liquid reached the back of their throats, they realized that it was poison; it was too late. As they died, the attractive person said, “I’m so sorry, but I told you I didn’t know.” The man who had the water lamented, “If only he had used the test to know the truth.” The question of this parable is: who was truly the most loving out of the two?
In regard to eternal life, we each have something in our possession. Some have truth and some are deceived by lies. But there is a way to test who has truth and who doesn’t, by comparing the words that are spoken with God’s word, the Bible (2 Timothy 2:15, 3:16,17). The outcome of our decision is no less critical than the situation above; it is, in fact, even more critical. Why? Because we are not merely speaking about our physical life, but our eternal life. When it comes to questions that affect our salvation, why would we seek to gamble with our soul? We do that when we trust someone who says, “I don’t know” yet appears warm, caring, and sensitive.
On the other hand, there are others who say, “This is truth and you ought to believe it. And here is the way that you can test whether what I am telling you is truth or not.” They give it to you straight, because they understand that if you do not accept it, then your soul will be in jeopardy (2 Corinthians 5:10,11). They warn you of the terrible consequences that await those who fail to believe the truth, and they point out the fact that others are out there, deceived and speaking lies about God’s plan for man’s salvation (Matthew 7:15-20). Yet some criticize them and say that they are unloving, unkind, and lack communication skills. Truly, who is the most loving? Is it the one who allows another person to drink poison all the while acknowledging that he does not know if it is or isn’t? Or is the one who warns about the danger and frankly tells the truth to others? Who, truly, has shown the greater love?
So it is in our power to test which one is speaking the truth and which one is not (1 John 4:1). Will we, fearful of offending someone, follow our emotions and make our decision based upon the mere appearance of love, sensitivity, and concern? Or will we, regardless of who may be offended, test the things that are said against the standard of truth that God has given to ensure that our beliefs are in harmony with God’s truth? I hope that we will choose to test the things that have been told us by others by comparing them to God’s word. Then, the only thing left for us to do is believe that which is true.