Devotional Week 39 Thursday
“’For you shall go to all to whom I shall send you, and whatever I command you, you shall speak. Be not afraid of them for I am with you to deliver you,’ says the Lord!”
Jeremiah 1: 8
“God must be sought and seen in His providences; it is not our actions in themselves considered which please Him, but the spirit in which they are done, more especially the constant ready obedience to every discovery of His will, even in the minutest things, and with such suppleness and flexibility of mind as not to adhere to anything, but to turn and move in any direction where He shall call.”
Today’s Study Text:
“So Naaman came with his horses and with his chariot, and stood at the door of the house of Elisha. And Elisha sent a messenger unto him, saying, ‘Go and wash in Jordan seven times, and thy flesh shall come again to thee, and thou shalt be clean.’ But Naaman was wroth, and went away, and said, ‘Behold, I thought, He will surely come out to me, and stand, and call on the name of the Lord his God, and strike his hand over the place, and recover the leper. Are not Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? May I not wash in them, and be clean?’ So he turned and went away in a rage. And his servants came near, and spake unto him, and said, ‘My father, if the prophet had bid thee do some great thing, wouldest thou not have done it? How much rather then, when he saith to thee, wash, and be clean?’ Then went he (Naaman) down, and dipped himself seven times in the Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God; and his flesh came again like unto the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.”
II Kings 5: 9-14
“Haughty or Humble –
A Lesson on Unreserved Trust”
“As rivers flow through valleys and low countries, so the root of all holy actions is nourished by humility.”
Thomas De Villanova
How would I describe a “haughty” spirit?
Has there ever been a time in my life when I displayed a “haughty” attitude?
What were the consequences of my behavior?
How is a “humble” spirit viewed by society today?
“If we learned humility, it might spare us humiliation.”
“All God’s thrones are reached by going downstairs.”
G. Campbell Morgan
With the lines of miscommunication finally untangled, General Naaman headed his chariot in the direction of the individual the young Israelite girl said would provide healing for him. It was off to Elisha, the man of God’s house.
One wonders what was going through the mind of this Syrian General as he made his way to the home of the Israelite healer. Pastor Carrie N. Mitchell, in her commentary on II Kings 5, reveals to us the way Naaman reacted when, upon arrival at the prophet’s abode, he was met by only a messenger:
“When Elisha sends only a messenger to Naaman with instructions for how he can be healed, Naaman rails at the perceived insult. Naaman then takes umbrage at Elisha’s choice of river in which he should wash, claiming that the rivers of his own nation are superior.”
In defense of Naaman, we need to remember that this man was a General – a mighty man of valour we are told by the Bible. He was a conquering leader who was admired by friend and foe alike. On the advice of a servant, in the first place, Naaman’s last resort for healing was already a stretch. Here he was in a foreign land, with a prophet who represented a foreign God. This in itself was a tremendous leap of faith for a worldly man.
And then, as far as I can tell, from Naaman’s viewpoint, you would at least expect Elisha to stick his head out the door to say, “Hello.” I like the way author Raymond B. Dillard portrays this event: “Naaman expected Israel’s God and prophet to be just like what he had known at home: itching palms and magic shows. He had brought plenty of money, and so he expected the prophet to deliver on the magic…the prophet was expected to appear, accept the pay, and ‘wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy.’” My favorite commentator on the books of I and II Kings, Dale Ralph Davis, offers this perspective, “Naaman had already written God’s script for him. He expected a regular piece of ancient, near Eastern faith-healing complete with all the shouting and razzle-dazzle. He wanted something more entertaining than a mere word of promise.”
It is what Davis observes next that really caught my attention. Here’s how he relates Naaman’s reaction to the way we often respond in our own lives: “We are not so far from Naaman. How often we already have our idea of how God ought to operate. When he doesn’t mesh with our expectations, we become ‘disappointed’ with God.”
Frustrated and in a foul mood, Naaman swung his chariot around determined to get what he needed back in the rivers of Syria, not in a mudhole like the Jordan River. It is sometimes this same attitude, unfortunately, which we exhibit when God’s plans don’t fit into the “ideal” world we have carved out for ourselves. William Sloane Coffin confronts the challenge of this problem when he warns that, “If we misconceive of God as Father Protector, as one, so to speak, in charge of all the uncontrolled contingences along the way, then each disappointment reduces what may confidently be affirmed about God. And this is how most people lose their faith.” But as Coffin explains, “there is nothing anti-intellectual about the leap of faith, for faith is not believing without proof but trusting without reservation.”
I find this explanation to be sound for when we confront the unexplainable in our lives, as each of us have, it is “trusting without reservation” which helps us scale the highest peaks, cross the rushing rivers, and plod through the lowest valleys.
Pastor Carrie N. Mitchell adds this insightful assessment which helps us during those times when a haughty, I can handle this on my own spirit may only serve to be a blockage which prevents us from trusting our Father’s leading, no matter where it takes us. As she so thoughtfully conveys: “If we mistakenly think God is controlling our lives rather than preserving, cooperating, and guiding us, the first hint of difficulty in our lives shatters our ability to ‘trust without reservation.’ With a more robust understanding of God’s gracious providence, we are better able to discern how to make the most of God’s providential actions in our lives, regardless of what external pressures we encounter.”
It is when we arrive at a vantage point of humble trust, that we really come to rely, unreservedly on our Father’s hand, to lead us where He knows we will find the healing we desperately need.
Author and pastor J. K. Packer penned these tremendously discerning words: “Not until we have become humble and teachable, standing in awe of God’s holiness and sovereignty…acknowledging our own littleness, distrusting our own thoughts, and willing to have our own minds turned upside down, that divine wisdom becomes ours.”
From his fancy chariot and his world of “control and command,” Naaman arrived at the prophet Elisha’s home, expecting that his power, position and possessions would help him acquire the healing he thought was his for the right price. What he learned was a lesson which not only applies to Naaman’s life, but to yours and mine as well. That as Augustine of Hippo so accurately expressed, “The sufficiency of my merit is to know that my merit is not sufficient.” May we never be forgetful of the fact that our heavenly Father, in His guiding care of our lives, thinks most of those, who think least of themselves.
“One can so easily become too great to be used by God. One can never be too small for His service.”
Corrie ten Boom
“The attitude you should have is the one that Christ Jesus had…He was humble.”
Philippians 2: 5, 9
“O Lord Jesus Christ, who didst humble thyself to become man, and to be born into this world for our salvation; teach us the grace of humility, root out of our hearts all pride and haughtiness, and so fashion us after Thy holy likeness in this world, that in the world to come we may be made lie unto Thee; for Thine own name’s and mercies’ sake.”
“Let my name be forgotten. Let me be trodden under the feet of all men, if Jesus may thereby be glorified.”
Dorothy Valcàrcel, Author