Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tables of the Testimony in his hand, he did not know that the skin of his face shone and sent forth beams by reason of his speaking with the Lord.”
Exodus 34: 29, Amplified Bible
“Because of and through the heart of tender mercy and loving-kindness of our God, a Light from on high will dawn upon us and visit us.”
Luke 1: 78, Amplified Bible
“It was Murray McCheyne who said, ‘Oh, for the holy shining of the face! And oh, for the holy ignorance of the shining.’ An elderly woman opened a conversation with a man on a trolley car. ‘Are you a minister,’ she asked. ‘No,’ he said with a smile, ‘but why do you ask?’ ‘Because, sir, you have a Bible face.’ Author, Robert Louis Stevenson asked God to forgive him if he had not shown a ‘morning face.’”
Mrs. Charles Cowman
Today’s Study Text:
“And when (Gehazi) came to the tower, he took them (the silver and garments) from (Naaman’s servant’s) hand, and bestowed them in the house. And (Gehazi) let the men go, and they departed.”
II Kings 5: 24, K.J.V.
“The Gain We Get”
“Whatever your task, put yourselves into it, as done for the Lord and not for your masters.”
Colossians 3: 23, N.R.S.V.
Do I honor the work that I do as if done for God?
How do I think Gehazi felt about the items he got from Naaman?
Could this “gain” have brought him pleasure?
“Hard work is a thrill and a joy when you are in the will of God.”
Robert A. Cook
“I never did anything worth doing by accident, nor did any of my inventions come by accident, they came by work.”
Thomas Alva Edison
The quotation above comes from the fourth most prolific inventor in history – Thomas Edison. This was an individual known for an unfailing work ethic. Yet here’s the irony. When a young lad in school, his teacher called him “addled” as he thought Edison was confused and muddled. I think with all the phenomenal ideas this young man had rolling around in his head, it might be easy to understand his potential for becoming distracted from rote study. However, Edison never turned his back on doing what apparently mundane task was laid before him because he always found there was something he could learn even working in a telegraph office.
The co-founder of Apple Computers, Steve Jobs, was also a person who related that a seemingly insignificant class he took in college on calligraphy later served as a catalyst as he was putting together the elements for desk top publishing which Apple pioneered.
I share these interesting pieces of information because all of us have a life history which includes the work we have done in our lifetime. My first “paying” job was at the age of thirteen when I was able to acquire a work permit and became part of a five-member student janitorial team at the elementary school not far from where we lived. There were four boys on this crew and I was the only girl. We were quite a group – but let me tell you – some of the basic efficiencies of cleanliness and attention to detail that I learned as a young kid on this job have followed me to this day.
As I’ve been studying about Gehazi, what really perplexed me is that to all outward appearances, he was a faithful worker. He was dedicated and concerned through many ordeals that struck Elisha’s life and his, as well. The fact is, I rather feel sorry for Gehazi and fortunately, in my reading about this interesting character, I came upon a sermon by my favorite storyteller/pastor Fred B. Craddock.
His take on Gehazi really struck a cord in my heart for in his sermon, “Does Money Carry Germs?” he opened my eyes to a huge truth that blazes like a wild fire through the story tucked away in II Kings 5, about a struggling worker for God.
We already know that at the time of Elisha there was a severe drought in the land. Times were tough. Widows were under the heavy hand of debt-collectors who probably were facing their own share of problems, too.
And then there were God’s children – the men and their families who were being taught at the Schools of the Prophets. Their lives weren’t easy, we have already found that out. To add to the hardships, the evil King Ahab and his wife Jezebel seemed to be profiteering during the famine.
I’m telling you – this sounds like the difficulties hitting people around the world right now. The rich get richer. The strong prey on the weak. The mighty abuse the poor.
Just yesterday, I read where reports are telling us that hunger in America right now is at levels not seen since The Great Depression. So many are hurting.
When I first decided to start our “Prayer for Jobs” list, I couldn’t have imagined that we would have 72 requests in a month. But what broke my heart was that in response to the first prayer list, we had close to 80 more requests in just one week! Don’t tell me people don’t want to work. I will turn that statement on its head and say, “dear people are suffering because they can’t find decent work, no matter how hard they try.”
And this brings me back to our friend Gehazi who most likely was struggling like all of God’s other workers. It is here where Pastor Craddock put things in Gehazi’s life in perspective for me. I’m going to let him tell the story because he’s the greatest at it. What’s so critical is that Pastor Craddock helps us see how Gehazi may have felt as he worked so hard and seemingly, from outward appearance, at least financially, benefitted so little:
“It could be that Gehazi said to himself, and quite reasonably so, “The service of God deserves more than I’m getting. If it’s all this important, if it really is the salt of the earth, the light of the world, the glue that holds civilization together, then surely its’ worth more than the pittance I get.” It is surely.
Here’s a young minister, wife, small baby, in a shoebox called a parsonage in western Kansas. It’s hot; there’s no air conditioning. There’s one little window fan. They’re smothering in there. Knock at the door Saturday morning, here comes one of the parishioners, a wealthy man, owns half the county, oil, cattle, wheat. He has something in his hand. “Won’t you come in.” It’s a television. It’s kind of a small television; it’s kind of an old television. The parishioner says, “My wife’s in Europe shopping with the girls but I thought I’d surprise her and have one of those big screen televisions here when she comes back. I tried to trade this one in but they wouldn’t give me anything for it so I said, ‘Well phooey, I’ll just give it to the minister.’ Now it still works even though the knob is off there. If you take a screwdriver and slip it right in there, you know…”
“Thank you, sir, thank you very much.” Watch the muscles in the jaw; look at the stare and the clenching of the soul of the young minister. Gehazi is worth more than he’s getting. He probably said, in fact, he did say, “Naaman’s a Syrian. What’s wrong with socking it to the Syrians?” You see, I want you to follow this now; your ethics or your morals can be determined by the other person. There are some people you would never lie to. There are some people you might lie to. There are some people you would never cheat; there are some people you might cheat. That is, it is possible to let your ethics be determined by the nature of the other person. Now Gehazi knows that’s wrong; his own Bible tells him it’s wrong. “You shall love the stranger as yourself. Whenever the stranger comes within your gates, you treat that person with protection and care as though that person were a member of your family.” He knows better. But it’s a Syrian, for goodness’ sake.
We know better too. Jesus said, “You’re to be children of God who never react according to the other person, but according to God’s own nature.” So you are to be children of God and live out of your own character, not wait and see what the other person is like.”
The critical point is that the work we do affects how we think about the gain we get. When we are working “as unto the Lord,” no matter if we’re cleaning the toilet in the principal’s office or emptying a bedpan of a dying patient on a cancer ward, as I did many times, when the one we are always working for is our Father in heaven, we feel that our “gain,” no matter how small is worth every effort we make.
It is when our focus turns to the fancy things that fulfill our earthly desires that we can become resentful because when we compare our lives with others, there will always be someone with more.
Interestingly, there are two points which Pastor Craddock draws from the example of Gehazi which I believe are crucial lessons for us today as well.
First, when you look at the “gain you are getting” for the work you do, as the pastor asks, “Can you speak of it with celebration and love with your own family? Will you still have the respect of your children (or those you love) when they learn about you?”
Second, as you look around you at the “things” your gain has helped you get, are you able to “say grace over your possessions? Can you bow your head and say a word of thanks? ‘Thank You God for this.’”
Just for a moment, put yourself in Gehazi’s sandals. Indeed, he may well have worked his fingers to the bone. It is very likely he was underpaid. Perhaps he had gone without on more than one occasion. But in his attempt to equalize the playing field, his desire for more placed him in a position where the gain he got wasn’t something he could tell others about. How could he share the fact that he had lied and stolen to get where he was? Worse yet, how could he ask God for His’ blessings on ill-gotten gain? Certainly gives me pause - for without God’s blessing on all the work I do, it seems pretty worthless in the end. May it be said of us, as was written about Brother Lawrence, “as he proceeded in his work, he continued his familiar conversation with his Maker, imploring His grace, and offering to Him all his actions.”
No matter what task we are given to do, may we never devalue the work of our hands and minds, for when done unto God, no greater gift can be ours. As the great reformer Martin Luther penned many years ago, “A dairy maid can milk cows to the glory of God.”
It was author John Dawson who wrote in his book, God In The Workshop, penned in 1868, “If your business be lawful, if you are where God would have you to be, whatever your occupation, there is nothing in it at all incompatible with a pure heart, a character unsullied, and a life regulated by the fear of God.” This is God’s glory revealed in the gain we get when we work.
“You will become a saint by complying exactly with your daily duties.”
Mary Joseph Rossello
“O God, who has commanded that no one should be idle,
Give us grace to employ our talents and faculties in the
service appointed for us, that whatever our hand finds to do,
we may do it with our might.
In The Knowledge of Thy Presence
“Dates and times;
Appointments to be kept;
Meetings to attend;
Anniversaries to remember;
All tightly scheduled
To fill the day.
The diary tells it all.
It tells of how we use our time,
Of how we fill the hours
And wish we had some more.
Hardly a moment to ourselves;
Almost always under pressure;
Often we drive too fast.
We feel that we are caught-
In the little pages
Of our life’s day.
Set us free within the daily round;
Free to do our work
Without a sense of burden
Or of constant rush and pressure
To get done.
Set us free to live our life
With joy and gladness
In the knowledge of Your presence
Everywhere we go.”
Dorothy Valcàrcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
P.S. Over the past few weeks, because of the generous outpouring of gifts from God’s “Garden daughters and sons,” we were able to complete our current projects and send 10,000 bookmarks to Papua New Guinea. We also sent 500 bookmarks in the Hindi language to Northern India. Thank you. Now we are undertaking the challenge of sending bookmarks to Russia, Lithuania and Brazil and to several domestic abuse shelters here in the United States.
My book, When A Woman Meets Jesus, is available wherever books are sold and on the internet at www.amazon.com, and www.Christianbook.com, or by calling toll-free, 1-800-Christian. You may also call Transformation Garden at 480-349-8619.
For more from Dorothy, please visit transformationgarden.com.