2 Kings 5-8
Over the course of the past few months, it would not be presumptuous to say that many of us have amended our handwashing technique; however, we have most likely been using one hand to wash the other for quite some time (hopefully with warm water and soap, too). It is a mutually beneficial relationship, which makes both hands equally clean, each part repaying the debt to the other. This has become a beautiful analogy for many who do favors in expectation of a return. No matter how you say it, “one hand washes the other” or “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” (which you will definitely need to wash your hands if you scratch someone’s back), going out of our way and doing the right thing can be advantageous to a relationship, a caching of IOUs, or marking our debt paid. Handwashing itself is definitely a biblical, Levitical principle, but is this tit-for-tat the way God works? Should we expect a return when we have lived out the moral will of God? Should we be cleanly rewarded because we have taken a risk on someone else’s mess?
Today’s reading challenges us to think differently about the expectations of doing a good deed. Naaman is healed of leprosy by the instructions ordained through Elisha. Naaman was indeed searching for a cure, but as the many who came up to Jesus looking for healing, he had a curiosity about the God of Israel. Overwhelmed by the healing, he asked Elisha if there is anything He can do in return? For a moment, think of your hospital bill if you were healed of a flesh-eating disease that could ultimately take your life, much less the deep appreciation you might have for your new quality of life. Both would be truly astronomical. Elisha could have asked for enormous amounts of wealth, power or favor in Syria, or even asked for a vow of protection from an enemy captain. He wanted part of no such thing. His whole purpose in helping is so that men, specifically Naaman, would know and confess “…Now I know that there is no God in all the world except in Israel…” – 2 King 5:15. If we needed any further confirmation of this truth, Elisha’s servant is struck with leprosy after turning back to essentially say Elisha had changed his mind and would be happy to take a few things in return (2 Kings 5:26,27).
The Gospel of Jesus Christ is not a message of hand washing hand. It is a message of hands washing feet. We are to be servants of God, and in turn, servants of those He loves, people. We do not do these things because we can earn our spot in the Kingdom of God, or buy our way into his favor (Rom 6:23). Our debt is so enormous, we could never repay it. We become the beneficiaries of this gift when we humbly accept the healing instructions God offers us; that we would be made clean by the waters of baptism and know and live that there is no other god in our life, except the living, one true God of Israel. When we act as God, meaning, when we act as an agent of His attributes (love, kindness, patience, truth, faithfulness, forgiveness, grace) we are not offering something that is from us. We are offering God. God’s terms have already been agreed upon; we do not have any additional conditions to bring to the table. We are not owed, nor should we expect a return on such an investment we make with our life or provisions. God is the rewarder. Every good and perfect thing flows down from the Father (James 1:17). Ultimately, we should not ever extend our hands out to expect a reward from God or anyone else. As we serve the Lord in whatever capacity he has called us to, we should extend our hands upward to give Him the praise because He is rewarding us in a literally astronomical way that will reshape the structures of heaven and earth. We may lose all we have or be thought of as fools as we try to serve like Jesus, but we can truly never settle the score, or wash the hand of God, and that is an awesome, powerful, wonderful thing.
Today’s Bible passage can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2+Kings+5-8&version=NIV
Tomorrow’s reading will be 2 Kings 9-11 as we continue the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan