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4/22/12 “Young Girls in the Bible: Naaman’s Servant Girl” 2 Kings 5:1-5
A. Series: life at the bottom of the pecking order, life at the low end of the totem pole
B. Tell story
1. Israel was often at war with its neighbor to the northeast, Syria, also called Aram.
2. A Syrian raiding party
3. Naaman goes to Israel and is eventually healed under the ministry of the prophet Elisha.
II. The remarkable contentment of this little maid in this foreign land
A. This girl is a wonderful example to us of accepting the will of the Lord.
1. She must have grieved deeply when she was taken away and brought to a strange place, apart from her beloved family and all her friends and familiar surroundings. But after a while, she let go of her grief and realized that she had to make the best of the situation God had put her in.
2. What men mean for evil, God means for good.
3. Heb.12:5-11 accepting the Lord’s discipline
4. 2Kings 5:1 “the Lord had given victory to Syria”
B. And we, like her, must learn to accept the situation God has put us in and dwell in it in peace.
1. God says: I will worry about where to put you, I’ll take care of your circumstances. You just worry about being faithful wherever I put you.
2. Some want to serve Him only according to their own preferences.
3. Some people waste their lives, moaning and groaning because things are not the way they would like them to be. And they never accept the Lord’s will and get on with serving the Lord faithfully in the place where He has planted them.
4. It is not ours to choose where we are to serve. If we are going to take Him as our Lord, then wherever He deems fit to assign us, we should willingly serve.
5. Remember Paul’s instruction to slaves in Col.3:22ff. to do their work wholeheartedly. Do a slave’s work wholeheartedly? Yes. Because ultimately the Lord is your master.
C. For this girl, her family was not her life.
1. She must have had a good family. She must have been brought up in a godly home, learning about the God who could heal diseases, learning about God’s prophet and the miracles God did through him, learning that God was not only the God of Israel, but the God of the whole world.
2. But when she was removed from her family, it was not the end of her life.
3. Family is good. God made family and He upholds the importance of family. But don’t buy into the notion that Christianity is all about family or that life is all about family.
4. Christianity is all about Christ. And for those who know Him, to live is Christ. His lovingkindness is better than life, including family, career, health, etc. etc. etc.
5. So you can be happy even if you’re separated from family or lose your health or fail in your career. Why? Because you still have Jesus and His promise of a glorious future home and family, and perfect health and occupation.
D. Naaman and his little maid servant are contrasted:
1. She is young. He is a grown-up.
2. She is female. He is male.
3. She is servant, he is master.
4. He dwells in his homeland. She dwells in a foreign land.
5. His family is intact, hers is gone.
6. He is mighty, important, powerful. She is insignificant, unknown, inconspicuous.
7. And yet she was the rich one. She is the one who had what Naaman lacked.
8. This is the way it is for us. We are the rich ones. We can’t expect the world to acknowledge this, not yet at least. One day it will be made plain for all to see.
III. The remarkable ministry of this little maid in this foreign land
A. Because this girl could accept her circumstances, she was able to be an instrument of the Lord in that strange place.
1. Let that sink in. Bitter, unhappy people can’t be good witnesses for Christ.
2. “Always be prepared to give an answer to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you.” (1Peter 3:15)
3. It’s people who sing hymns when unjustly thrown into prison whose testimony gets listened to.
4. Because this girl could accept her circumstances, she was able to be an instrument of the Lord.
B. Secondly, she manifested the spirit of Jesus in that she was able to love her enemies.
1. Luke 6:27-28 “But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” Cf. Matt 5:43-47.
2. It would have been easy to say, “It serves him right!” But instead she said, “I know how you can get healed from your leprosy!”
3. There are some who would think it their duty to resist.
4. Later on in the history of Israel, the people of Judah were captured and brought to Babylon. Most were inclined to be defiant and NOT serve the nation of Babylon while they were slaves there. But God rebuked them for this through the prophet Jeremiah: "Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon, 'Build houses and live in them; and plant gardens, and eat their produce. Take wives and become the fathers of sons and daughters, and take wives for your sons and give your daughters to husbands, that they may bear sons and daughters; and multiply there and do not decrease. And seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf; for in its welfare you will have welfare.'” (Jer. 29:4-7)
a. There is a time to resist, but so much resistance is just pride, and not obedience to God.
b. When Paul and Silas were in the Philippian jail, they weren’t shaking their fetters and shouting, “Give me liberty or give me death.” Why? God had given them something that was much more: a true freedom that is far greater than physical or political freedom.
c. Titus 2:9-10 “Urge bondslaves to be subject to their own masters in everything, to be well-pleasing, not argumentative, not pilfering, but showing all good faith that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in every respect.” Cf. 1Tim. 6:1
5. This girl from Israel had compassion for her captors.
a. She had compassion for a Syrian captain, the enemy of her people, and slave-holder who had killed many of her own people, perhaps family and friends.
b. Does our compassion extend only to the boundaries of folks that we know and like?
6. She was sweet toward her captors. I have trouble being sweet to my own family!
C. Thank God for people who have compassion on lost sinners.
1. Humanly-speaking, Naaman wouldn’t have been saved if he’d been treated with hostility/resentment.
2. He had done very evil things. There really is evil in the heart of men, & they do really evil things.
3. But God says to overcome evil with good (Rm.12:21). And that’s just what she did.
D. It wasn’t just the little girl who had compassion, of course.
1. We can understand how a little girl might have compassion, even upon someone whom she shouldn’t have compassion upon, out of ignorance and childishness.
2. But she wasn’t the only one who had compassion upon this Syrian general.
3. God had compassion upon Naaman. Her compassion was an expression of His compassion.
4. Do we have hearts big enough to have compassion on Iranians and Iraqis and Chinese communists, including tyrannical rulers. Do we have hearts big enough to have compassion on inner city blacks? Do we have hearts big enough to have compassion on the homeless?
5. Do you have it in your heart to love communists? Muslims? Hindus? Buddhists? Atheists?
6. If we don’t, then our love is not God’s love. His love can reach this far. His love is wide enough to embrace even men who are Syrian warriors.
7. You know if God hadn’t put it into someone’s heart to love an atheist, I would never have been brought to Christ!
1. “For how do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?” (1Corinthians 7:16)
a. Stay with your unbelieving spouse, even if it is unpleasant to do so.
b. The temptation to be preoccupied with your own pain instead of seeing the opportunity the Lord has given you to serve Him, and the possibility of really making a difference where you are.
2. My friends, it is so easy to remain in our comfort zone.
a. We must not be content to forget that there is a world out there that God loves. A world of wicked people that God wants to save. A world sick with sin, which desperately needs someone to care enough to say there’s a way of healing, a world of lepers, whose leprosy is much more disgusting and much more deadly than Naaman’s, that need to be pointed to the Man who can heal their disease.
3. In her demonstration of mercy, this slave girl was also an evangelist. By pointing Naaman to Elisha, she pointed him to salvation as well. This is why God had planted her there in Syria.
a. When God has one chosen to be His own, He always sends a messenger to point them to the light.
b. When we have opportunities to evangelize, we should keep this in mind. Each opportunity might be exactly that. In your work place or your school or your neighborhood. God has put you there for a purpose. He has planted you there so you can plant seeds.
c. We ought to view even difficulties and persecutions as opportunities.
d. This is not the only time that violence and hatred were used by God to get His people into the right place for evangelism.
e. Imagine if the girl thought to herself, “He is not an Israelite. How could he ever be the object of God’s mercy? Let him suffer in his leprosy.”
B. The God of small tools
1. Look at this little girl from the perspective of the Lord. In the world’s eyes she is nothing. And from the eyes of the world, Naaman is a very important person. But from the perspective of the Lord, how differently things look! She is one of the few who have remained faithful to the Lord in a day of rampant idolatry in Israel. What a precious little girl she is! How useful she is in her faithfulness, in her love for the Lord, her desire to help and be a blessing even to these people who have captured her and enslaved her. What a channel of Christ’s love! And she is still doing God’s people good today. Why, people are still preaching sermons about her!
a. The last shall be first.
2. What qualified her for such an important task?
a. A kind heart
b. Faith in God: This couldn’t have happened if she had not had confidence in the power of God to heal.
c. If you have faith and love, you are ready to be used by God.
d. It is not greatness that the world needs, it is not salesmanship. It is not even money. It is love and faith. That’s what this world needs from us.
(1) She could help man because she knew God.
3. This has a special message to children.
a. It is easy to think that you are too small to be used by God.
b. But in some ways you have more power to be used now than you will when you are an adult. (So many things have a greater impact when they come from a child.)
c. In fact, God seems to prefer to use little people to do His work. Then everyone can tell that it is not by man’s might or ingenuity but by God’s Spirit that great things are accomplished.
d. Naaman’s little maid must have been a good worker and trustworthy. They would not have paid attention to her if she was foolish and irresponsible. Your life is the platform for your testimony. If you don’t live in such a way that people respect you and listen to what you have to say, you will have ruined any chance to have a good testimony for Christ.