Be a Christian Who Cares
2 Kings 5:1-15
Sermon by Rick Crandall
Grayson Baptist Church - July 28, 2013
*It's always a good idea to look back over life and think about the people who have made a difference: People who helped us in a time of need.
*People who blessed us.
-Opened new doors for us.
-Helped us grow.
-Imparted new wisdom.
-Made us more than we had been before.
*One of those people for me is a man named Richard Mencer. In the mid-1990's Rich owned a kiosk Christian Bookstore at the mall in Hot Springs, Arkansas. He also served on staff in a church up there. I got to know Richard through his in-laws at Emmanuel Baptist Church.
*In early 1997, I was going through a discouraging time in my ministry. Looking back, I can't even remember why. But I was really discouraged. Then one day Richard called out of the blue. He told me he was going on a mission trip to Ukraine that summer. He said they needed another pastor to go with them, that they had prayed about it, and felt like the Lord was leading them to ask me.
*Then Rich said he had shared all of this with the city-wide singles group he was leading, and they had volunteered to pay the $3,000 cost for the trip. I couldn't believe it!
*God did a lot of great things on that trip. But on top of everything else, He used that trip to give me a new burst of encouragement. And all of that happened, because of some Christians who cared.
*We need to be Christians who truly care for other people. How can we get there? The servant girl in today's Scripture can help us. This Hebrew girl was captured as a slave, and served Naaman's wife. We don't even know her name. But this young girl made an everlasting difference in Naaman's life, because she was a believer who cared. She is a great example for us today.
*How can we be Christians who care?
1. First: Go beyond what's familiar.
*Verses 1& 2 introduce this young girl who was in a most unfamiliar situation:
1. Now Naaman, commander of the army of the king of Syria, was a great and honorable man in the eyes of his master, because by him the Lord had given victory to Syria. He was also a mighty man of valor, but he was a leper.
2. And the Syrians had gone out on raids, and had brought back captive a young girl from the land of Israel. She waited on Naaman's wife.
*Talk about an unfamiliar situation! We don't know how long this young Jewish girl had been among the Syrians. But she was able to break through all of the barriers in her path: A language barrier, a religious barrier, a racial barrier and a class barrier.
*There were all kinds of cultural differences between her and her owners. But none of these barriers kept her from caring. None of these barriers kept her from sharing her faith. And in this she was a model of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
*A great place to see the Lord crossing barriers like this is in John 4:6-14. There the Lord talked to a lost and lonely woman in Samaria:
6. Now Jacob's well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied from His journey, sat thus by the well. It was about the sixth hour.
7. A woman of Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, "Give Me a drink.''
8. For His disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.
9. Then the woman of Samaria said to Him, "How is it that You, being a Jew, ask a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?'' For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.
10. Jesus answered and said to her, "If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, `Give Me a drink,' you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.''
11. The woman said to Him, "Sir, You have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep. Where then do You get that living water?
12. Are You greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well, and drank from it himself, as well as his sons and his livestock?''
13. Jesus answered and said to her, "Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again,
14. but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.''
*The Lord Jesus was weary. But He wasn't too weary to care. Jesus crossed gender, racial and religious barriers to offer His life-giving spiritual water to the Samaritan woman.
*By the grace of God, one of the most remarkable times I ever saw barriers crossed was in Chernigov, Ukraine in 1998. I wouldn't even have been in Ukraine, if Richard had not invited me to go the year before. But there I was. And I was preaching in a church that Sunday morning, as a Ukrainian lady translated my message into Russian.
*That church had a ministry to deaf people, and there were about five or six on the front row. As my interpreter translated my sermon into Russian, another lady translated her words into sign language. And one of the deaf people got saved that morning!
*What a great blessing! God allowed me to go 6,000 miles to tell people about Jesus Christ. Then He translated His Word from English to Russian to sign language, all to get a precious lady saved.
*God loves to break through barriers, so we need to go beyond what's familiar.
2. And go beyond what's fair.
*Talk about an unfair situation here in vs. 2! "The Syrians had gone out on raids, and had brought back captive a young girl from the land of Israel." The KJV calls her a "young maid". The New American Standard calls her a "little girl".
*This little girl was captured and torn away from everyone she loved. Then she was sold as a slave. It would have been so easy for her to be bitter.
*Louis Bartet put it this way: "I don't know about you, but if I were the 'little girl' I would have been, to say the least, angry at my captors. They were responsible for destroying my dreams. They were responsible for the nightmares that woke me up in the night. . . Because of them, I was alone in a strange land, and surrounded by strange people. Because of them, I was miles away from my loving mother and father." (1)
*Greg Bitter said, "She had every reason to hate Naaman and wish evil on him. (He was the commander of the Syrian army!) He was responsible for stealing her away from her family and home. He hurt her country. He had ruined her future, condemning her to a life of slave. . . She had every reason to hate him." (2)
*This young girl was in a rotten situation, and she could have been bitter. "Why me, Lord? -- Life's not fair." She would have been right about that last one. Life is not fair. But God can even use the worst things that happen to us to bring about good. And that's what He did here.
*On April 20th, 2001, Missionary Veronica "Roni"' Bowers was killed by a single bullet when a Peruvian Air Force jet fired on the Cessna plane the missionaries were in. Jim and Roni Bowers' 7-month-old, adopted daughter, Charity, was sitting in her mother's lap. She was killed by the same bullet.
*A Peruvian Air Force pilot shot at the plane, because he mistakenly thought it carried drugs and drug dealers. Roni's husband, Jim, and their 6-year-old adopted son, Cory, survived the attack without serious injury. The pilot, missionary Kevin Donaldson, was seriously injured by gunfire to his legs, but he was able to crash-land the plane on the Amazon. The Bower's family had been faithful missionaries to the area for over a dozen years.
*Life is not fair: Roni knew that. She was never able to have a baby on her own. Listen to part of her testimony from about three years before she died: "After many tests, everything appeared to be normal and I returned to Peru three weeks later with all kinds of maternity clothes.
*The following Friday, I was encouraged to lie down by one of the coworkers. No sooner had I laid down than my water broke. I was only ten weeks into the pregnancy. Praise the Lord, one of the people in the (construction team) was a lady, and she knew what to do.
*After about five hours of labor in the hospital, I lost our baby. Despair is the only word to describe how I felt. I knew that I had to cling to God. He reminded me of Psalm 23 and I trusted Him to 'restore my soul.'
*I couldn't understand all the emotions, the deep depression I was feeling. What kind of a Christian was I? After months of struggles, I realized I was putting the baby I wanted before my relationship with God. I finally realized what I was doing and begged God to forgive me. More than anything, I wanted my relationship with Him back. God has not taken away the desire for a baby, but He has helped me put my priorities in order.
*Now I choose to trust God fully. He is in control. He knows what is best. He doesn't owe me anything, rather I owe Him everything." (3)
*Life is not fair, but God helped Roni Bowers, and He will help us to go beyond what's fair. How can we be Christians who care? -- Go beyond what's fair.
3. And go beyond putting ourselves first.
*When the slave girl heard that Naaman was sick, she could have said: "So what? -- Who cares?"
-Do we have a problem with selfishness or apathy?
-What about a cold heart and lack of concern?
-We don't want to be living our lives in the grip of greed.
*We need to go beyond putting ourselves first.
4. And go beyond our fears.
*This young girl had every reason to be afraid. She had been torn away from her home and every earthly security she ever had. She was young. She was a slave. She didn't carry any weight around that home. Nobody had to listen to her.
*She had every reason to be afraid. And there are a lot of things we can be afraid of in this world. But the most common fear in the church today is probably the fear of sharing our faith.
*Leighton Ford wrote a book called "Good News Is for Sharing," and as he got ready to write, Leighton talked to many Christians. The issue that came up over and over was fear.
*Here are some of the fears that were mentioned:
-"I am afraid I might do more harm than good."
-"I don't know what to say."
-"I may not be able to give snappy answers to tricky questions."
-"I am afraid I might fail."
-"I am afraid I might be a hypocrite."
-"I am afraid I might be rejected." (4)
*Yes we will face fears. But the servant girl overcame her fears, and so can we.
-How can we be Christians who care? -- Go beyond our fears.
5. And go beyond by faith.
*Faith gave courage to this young girl, and her kind of faith can overcome our fear.
 Notice first that her faith was confident.
*In vs. 3: Then she said to her mistress, "If only my master were with the prophet who is in Samaria! For he would heal him of his leprosy.'' There was nothing wishy-washy there, nothing doubtful there. Her faith was confident.
 And it touched her character.
*I say that because real faith changes the way we live. Listen to what Martin Dale said about the girl's character: "There must have been something about her character that made her trustworthy. Why else would Naaman's wife have listened to the young girl and then bothered to tell Naaman? I can only think that this young girl's character stood out in Naaman's household. And it is totally in keeping with what we as the Children of God are called to be." (5)
*Her faith touched her character.
 And notice that it came to light in a crisis.
*Nobody likes trouble. But God often uses trouble to get people's attention. That's what He did in Naaman's life. And there are Naamans around us today. So Louis Bartet asks: "Who is the Naaman in your life?" (1)
*Her faith came to light in a crisis.
 And it created the opportunity for Naaman to be healed.
*We see this truth in vs. 4-7:
4. And Naaman went in and told his master, saying, "Thus and thus said the girl who is from the land of Israel.''
5. So the king of Syria said, "Go now, and I will send a letter to the king of Israel.'' So he departed and took with him ten talents of silver, six thousand shekels of gold, and ten changes of clothing.
6. Then he brought the letter to the king of Israel, which said, "Now be advised, when this letter comes to you, that I have sent Naaman my servant to you, that you may heal him of his leprosy.''
7. And it happened, when the king of Israel read the letter, that he tore his clothes and said, "Am I God, to kill and make alive, that this man sends a man to me to heal him of his leprosy? Therefore please consider, and see how he seeks a quarrel with me.''
*Naaman wasn't at the right place yet. But the servant girl's faith created the opportunity for him to be healed.
 In vs. 8, her faith also connected with other believers.
8. So it was, when Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had torn his clothes, that he sent to the king, saying, "Why have you torn your clothes? Please let him come to me, and he shall know that there is a prophet in Israel.''
*When we have faith, God will bring us into contact with other believers in ways we never expected. This time last year, we had no idea our church would be in partnership with First Baptist for Upward Football. But God brought us together.
*The servant girl's faith connected with other believers.
 And it was contagious.
*In vs. 9-13, her faith spread to Naaman's servants, -- enough for them to persuade their master to do what the prophet asked:
9. Then Naaman went with his horses and chariot, and he stood at the door of the house of Elisha.
10. And Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, "Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored to you, and you shall be clean.''
11. But Naaman became furious, and went away and said, "Indeed, I said to myself, 'He will surely come out to me, and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, and wave his hand over the place, and heal the leprosy.'
12. Are not the Abanah and the Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them and be clean?'' So he turned and went away in a rage.
13. And his servants came near and spoke to him, and said, "My father, if the prophet had told you to do something great, would you not have done it? How much more then, when he says to you, 'Wash, and be clean'?''
*Then the servant girl's faith spread to Naaman himself, as he went down into the water 7 times. Listen to the Scripture again in vs. 14-15:
14. So he went down and dipped seven times in the Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God; and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.
15. Then he returned to the man of God, he and all his aides, and came and stood before him; and he said, "Indeed, now I know that there is no God in all the earth, except in Israel. . .''
*Her faith was contagious.
 And it looked forward to the cross.
*This young woman trusted in the Lord. And she trusted in the Lord's prophets, because they spoke the Word of God.
I like the way Greg Bitter put it: "This girl trusted in the Lord, the one true God. She trusted in his mercy and might. What was the basis for this faith? She must have heard the Lord's promises spoken by the prophets or her parents back in her home country of Israel.
*The greatest promise she would have heard was how in his mercy God would send the Messiah. This anointed Savior would bring blessings not only to Israel but to all nations. That was the Lord's promise, made to her forefather Abraham and passed down through the generations. She held on to the Lord's promise. And that promise would not break like a brittle twig."
*Greg added this: "Dear friends who hold on to Jesus, cartoons at times will have a scene where someone, let's say Wiley E. Coyote in the Road Runner cartoons, falls off the edge of a cliff. As he falls, he grabs hold of a twig sticking out of the side of the cliff. He hangs there for a short time. Then the twig snaps and he falls.
*It doesn't matter how strong his grip was. When the twig breaks, he falls. You see, the key to a great faith is not how strong the faith is. But what the faith holds on to. If faith holds on to a breakable twig, then no matter how strong the grip is, that faith will fall, just like that cartoon character. But faith that holds on to the promises of the Lord, that faith will never fall, -- for the Lord's promises never break. There was no way for the servant girl to fully understand it. But the promises of God she believed in looked forward to the cross." (2)
*And now we have the cross! Jesus Christ came into the world 2,000 years ago:
-To die on the cross for us.
-To take the punishment for all of our sins.
-To give eternal healing and life to all who will put their faith in Him.
*And we can fully trust in the Lord Jesus Christ! We can even trust Jesus to help us care for other people the same way He cares for us.
*By the grace of God we can be caring Christians. May God help us to go:
-Beyond what's familiar.
-Beyond what's fair.
-Beyond putting ourselves first.
-Beyond our fears.
-And beyond by faith.
*Would you please bow for prayer.
(1) SermonCentral sermon "A Little Girl and a Leprous General" by Lou Bartet - 2 Kings 5:1-14
(2) SermonCentral sermon "Faith Holds on to the Lord's Promises" by Gregg Bitter - 2 Kings 5:1-14
SermonCentral illustration contributed by Larry Sarver
Online testimony from crossroad.to - Sent by Pastor William Plenge
(4) Leighton Ford, "Good News is for Sharing" - 1977 - David C. Cook Publishing Co., page 15 - Adapted from SermonCentral sermon "Building a Caring Church -- Overcoming Barriers" by Gerald Flury - 2 Kings 5 1 4
(5) SermonCentral sermon "A Little Girl" by Martin Dale - 2 Kings 5:1-15