Summary: Just as the Lord trained Naaman, so also he trains us to hold on to his promises by faith alone, so that we shine out with Christian love and Christ-centered confidence like the little Israelite slave girl did.
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ. The Word of God through which the Holy Spirit touches our hearts this morning is recorded in 2 Kings 5:1-14
Dear friends who hold on to Jesus,
Cartoons at times will have a scene where someone, let’s says Wild E. Coyote in the Road Runner cartoons, falls off the edge of a cliff. As he falls, he grabs hold of a twig sticking out of the side of the cliff. He hangs there for a short time. Then the twig snaps and he falls. It doesn’t matter how strong his grip was. When the twig breaks, he falls.
Today we want to keep that picture in mind as we talk about our faith and learn about about the faith of a Israelite slave girl and the faith of foreign military commander, named Naaman. For you see, the key to a great faith is not how strong the faith is but what the faith holds on to. If faith holds on to a breakable twig, then no matter how strong the grip is, that faith will fall, just like that cartoon character. But faith that holds on to the promises of the Lord, that faith will never fall. For the Lord’s promises never break.
As the Holy Spirit works in our hearts through his word, we focus on the theme: Faith Holds on to the Lord’s Promises. Faith holds on to the Lord’s promises, 1) like the little slave girl did, whose faith shined brighter than a king’s. And faith holds on to the Lord’s promises, 2) like the foreign commander, Naaman, did, who learned that God’s promises are received by faith alone for they come by grace alone.
1) Like the little slave girl did, whose faith shined brighter than a king’s.
When the text begins, it is in the 800’s B.C. Joram, the son of wicked King Ahab, was king in Israel. The country of Aram (about equivalent to modern-day Syria) was the military power in the region. Naaman was one of Aram’s leading commanders. Military bands from Aram raided the surrounding countries. One of these raids captured a young Israelite girl, who became a slave to Naaman’s wife.
This girl trusted in the Lord, the one true God. She trusted in his mercy and might. What was the basis for this faith? She must have heard the Lord’s promises spoken by the prophets or her parents back in her home country of Israel. The greatest promise she would have heard was how in his mercy the Lord would send the Messiah. This Messiah, this anointed Savior, would bring blessings not only to Israel but to all nations. That was the Lord’s promise, made to her forefather Abraham and passed down through the generations. She held on to the Lord’s promise. That promise would not break, like a brittle twig.
Her faith that held on to the Lord’s promises shined out in her life. It shined with the light of love and confidence. She had every reason to hate Naaman and wish evil on him. He was responsible for stealing her away from her family and home. He hurt her country. He had ruined her future, condemning her to a life of slaver. And the odor and sight of his leprosy, eating away his skin, could make it disgusting to be around him. She had every reason to hate him.
But the love of the Lord shined through her. By faith she knew the great love that the Lord had for her, dirty sinner though she was. She knew of his great love that promised a Savior for her. Faith that holds on to the Lord’s promises shines with the Lord’s love. What is more, such a faith has the confidence that the Lord is able and willing to help in the best way possible.
Her faith speaks with love and confidence: “If only my master would see the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy.”
Her faith shines all the more brightly when we contrast it with the attitude of the king Israel. The king of Israel was suppose to lead his people as an example of faith and service to the Lord God. Not this king. When Naaman comes with the letter asking for healing, the king of Israel does not turn to the Lord. He doesn’t seek out the Lord’s prophet and the Lord’s word. For you see this king does not trust in the Lord. He doesn’t hold on to the Lord’s promises. He holds on to breakable twigs that snap under pressure.
So his response is anger and outrage. He tries to sound religious and humble saying, “Am I God?” But it is just a pretense. He tries to turn the situation to his political advantage, expressing worry of what might happen and blaming the king of Aram for trying to pick a fight. We do not see faith’s love and confidence shining out.