This Bible verse, 2 Kings 5: 1-14 reads to me like a soap opera. There seems to be some distrust all over the place. Namaan, a great servant, although a leper, was used to getting respect. And was outraged when Elisha treated him like an ordinary person. We don’t see this, or I don’t remember, any other situation where a leper appears to be, well, cocky. This guy must have been a great leader, and the whole leper thing must have been mild or in it’s early stages. None the less, his future and career would be cut short soon enough if he didn’t get his leprosy cured.
Still, it just must not have been quite rock bottom for him. As washing in the Jordan, a smaller and dirtier river, was beneath a man of his position.
Namaan had to humble himself and do what Elisha commanded in order to be healed.
My Bible from when I was a kid (it’s old, but not as old as the actual Bible, so I still use it on occasion) notes that “Obedience to God begins with humility.”
Maybe my youth bible is outdated (It IS from the ‘80’s.) Because, this example isn’t necessarily obedience to God. Namaan isn’t called to obey God in this instance. He’s called to be healed by the King of Israel.
If God appeared and asked me to put my left hand in. Put my left hand out, put my left hand in, and then shake it all about – I’d totally do it. No questions asked. No humility involved.
But when we rely on a professional, a friend, or a parent’s input, we immediately question their credentials and if it’ll work. Maybe we should have trust in the response before it is ever given. Eventually, we have to just believe the commander (a doctor, a therapist, a friend, a spouse, a parent, or say oh, I don’t know – Jesus in Matthew 8:2-4.)
The humility is in whether you choose to take the advice, the humility is when you ask for the help.
And that’s where we faulter every day in modern times. We seek out help, and when the helper offers insight, we deny the advice, or don’t take the steps needed to get the help. We need to have trust in each other that God is within each of us. That was why we sought out the help in the first place.
I was literally walking up the frozen foods aisle the other day in search of vanilla bean ice cream while telling my husband that my never-ending vicious weight loss struggle for this week is getting worse, when he brought it to my attention that I was on a quest for ice cream. Good point. But I still ate the ice cream, citing, wait for it…that it was organic.
We know we need help. Half the time we know how to help ourselves. We just don’t do it.
On the flipside, we are called to help people. Might I add, we are called to help those who seek out our help. Don’t go saving people who may not need nor want saving. That’s not your call. But what qualifies us to help others when they seek out our help?
The thorny theological question this week is “What did it take for you to realize that you don’t know it all?”. I think becoming a mother is what it took for me. Oddly enough, as a parent, you better come up with some quick answers for those little curious sponges. My answers have always landed on the side of honesty. Sometimes super brief honesty, but nonetheless, direct honesty.
As my kids get older, the questions and advice seeking is uh, less frequent, thornier though. And I don’t always have an answer or good advice. I can’t fix it. By being honest with them, and occasionally saying, “I just don’t know.” By exposing my humility, I create more trust with my kids.
I feel for the King of Israel – “Sigh! Look, guy – you came to me and asked for me to heal you. I told you what to do and now you think you’re too good for it!?” Don’t get me started on the parenthood versions of this lecture.
We should give help, and advice just like we should lend money: do it sparingly, and do it with the intent of never seeing that money again. Except in the case of advice giving, do it honestly, and with no intentions of knowing the outcome. No follow up. You just gotta give freely, with no expectations. And when they don’t take your very awesome advice – they don’t go down to that dirty Jordan River – well, that’s where your humility plays it’s part.
Sometimes giving help with no expectations involves just as much humility as asking for help. Keep that in mind next time someone needs your help. AND when you ask for help.