Summary: This sermon is based on Charles Swindoll's book "Improving Your Serve" chapter 10. The sermon uses Gehazi, the servant of Elisha the prophet, as an example of the perils that servants face.
A. There was a man who worked for the Post Office whose job it was to process all the mail that had undeliverable addresses.
1. One day, a letter came written in shaky handwriting to God with no actual address.
2. He thought he should open it to see what it was about.
3. The letter read: “Dear God, I am an 83 year old widow, living on a very small pension. Yesterday someone stole my purse. It had $100 in it, which was all the money I had until my next pension check. Next Sunday is Christmas, and I had invited two of my friends over for dinner. Without that money, I have nothing to buy food with. I have no family to turn to, and you are my only hope. Can you please help me? Sincerely, Edna”
4. The postal worker was touched and he showed the letter to all the other workers.
5. Each postal worker dug into his or her wallet and came up with a few dollars.
6. By the time he made the rounds, he had collected $96, which was $4 short, but he went ahead and put the $96 into an envelope and mailed it to the woman.
7. The rest of the day, all the workers felt a warm glow thinking of Edna and the dinner she would be able to share with her friends.
8. Christmas came and went, then a few days later, another letter came from the same old lady addressed to God.
9. All the workers gathered around while the letter was opened.
10. The letter read: “Dear God, How can I ever thank you enough for what you did for me? Because of your gift, I was able to fix a glorious dinner for my friends. We had a very nice day and I told my friends of your wonderful gift. By the way, there was $4 missing. I think it must have been taken by those thieves at the Post Office. Sincerely, Edna”
B. Have you ever served, but then were left with a bad taste in your mouth?
1. Have you ever served, and then felt unappreciated?
2. Have you ever served, and then became possessive of your area of service?
3. Have you ever served, and then after a while the subtle concern changed from giving to taking?
4. These are some of the perils of a servant.
5. They usually occur over time and can happen unconsciously.
6. They are terrible traps of the devil and can lead to our ruin.
C. Almost every calling and occupation carries with it particular hazards – some are subtle and others are obvious and overt.
1. Let me name some callings and occupations and I want you to consider what inherent hazards may come with it.
a. Consider the hazards of being a lawyer or a judge.
b. Consider the hazards of being a police officer, or being involved in the military.
c. Consider the hazards of being a school teacher or working as a nurse or doctor.
d. With each of them there are potential physical perils, but there are also emotional hazards, and even spiritual traps.
2. When it comes to being a servant of the Lord, whether a person is in full-time ministry, or whether they are a volunteer in a church or Christian ministry, there are also perils and hazards to avoid.
3. We might think that being a servant is about the safest thing in the world, but if we think that way, then we are making ourselves vulnerable to our enemy’s attacks.
4. We must always keep in mind the fact that all servants of God are absolutely human.
5. Every single one of us has our own areas of weakness and has the potential for failure.
6. We must take to heart Paul’s warning in 1 Cor. 10:12, “So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall!”
a. In the verse that follows, Paul talks about the fact that we all face the same temptations, but that God is faithful and won’t let us be tempted beyond what we can bear, and God always provides a way out.
I. The Story
A. To help us understand the perils that servants face, I want us to turn to the Old Testament, and to lift out of obscurity a man who was a servant of the great prophet Elisha.
1. The servant’s name is Gehazi.
2. The story we want to examine begins in 2 Kings 4.
3. Before we get into Gehazi’s story, here is a little background to the story.
a. The times were hard for the people of Israel.
b. The nation of Israel was rapidly deteriorating as one wicked ruler followed another and led the people further astray.