by Dr. Dale Yerton
Helping the Helpless – the story of Naaman
(II Kings 5:1-5) People often ask why we should preach Jesus to other nations, “Why bother them? They have their own religion and culture.” These thoughts are very misguided. We are not bothering them; we are bringing them the good news. The story of Naaman illustrates the need for cross-culture ministry. Let’s investigate this story like a detective searching for clues.
Who are they?Their cultures are very different from ours. Do we see them as friends or enemies? “Naaman… was a great and honorable man,.. a mighty man of valor.” (II Kings 5:1) That was the way God saw him, and we must learn to look at people the way God does. Israel did not see Naaman as a great and honorable man. They looked at him as the enemy, someone to be hated and avoided. The way we see people determines the way we respond to them. If we see them as bad people, we will fail to share the love of God with them. If we see them as broken humanity, we will pity them and look for a way to help save their lives.
Where are they?They are all around us. We meet them continually, but we fail to see them because we are not looking for them. We meet them every day but fail to see them because we are too focused on our own lives.
What is going to happen?Naaman is going to die. It is a shame to have to speak so plainly, but sometimes we need to be shocked back into reality. Every person we have ever met has an appointment with death. “And it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment.” (Hebrews 9:27) “Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.” (James 1:15) Naaman was a leper. In the Bible leprosy, is a picture of what sin does in our lives. It works slowly and silently but always ends in death. We cannot blame others for our condition, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23)
Why should I care?In this story, it is the little unnamed Israeli girl who is the heroine. Without her, this story would not be in our Bibles. Naaman would probably have died of his leprosy and missed his miracle moment. Instead of anger and bitterness for Naaman, she felt love and pity. She felt no hatred for the man who spoke a different language, who lived in a different culture and had made her his slave. The little girl held the key to Naaman’s life. She can save him if she can overcome her own pain. In the same way, we are responsible to bring the good news of eternal life to others. We know the truth and can help save them if we can only stop thinking about ourselves and have compassion for them.
Will it make any difference?Why would a mighty man of valor listen to a little slave girl? Because he is dying and he knows it. He is willing to go any place and pay any price to be cured of his leprosy. What is the value of life? On a trip to South Africa, I discovered the terrible truth of the value of life in that nation. One dollar a day! I watched a documentary film about life in a South African village where the Aids epidemic was killing so many young men. The government began a program to assist these young men dying with Aid with $30 per month. The officials were shocked when young women began going to these young men dying from Aids and deliberately getting themselves infected with the virus so they too, could collect the one dollar a day from the government. Life is so cheap in an African village. Why is life so cheap? Because they have no hope. The same is true for so many people around us. They have lost hope and have given up on life. The multitudes are waiting for us to come and share with them the good news of eternal life. The question we must ask ourselves is, have we found our Naaman and shared with him that he doesn’t have to die?
Do We Have a Spirit Like the Little Girl? Do We Care Enough to Share With Them That They Don’t Have To Die?
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