You have to feel for poor old Namaan, whose story takes center stage in today’s Old Testament lesson (2 Kings 5:1-21). He had been sent to Israel, where there was rumored to be a prophet who could cure him of his leprosy. But when he arrived, expecting to be given some set of heroic spiritual challenges to overcome, the prophet in question didn’t even come out to meet him. The prophet merely sent word: “Go, wash yourself seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will be restored and you will be cleansed.” (v. 10)
Naturally, Namaan was upset. “I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the LORD his God, wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy. Besides,” he continued, “are not the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Couldn’t I wash in them and be cleansed?” (vs. 11-12) But Namaan’s servant pointed out: “My father, if the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more, then, when he tells you, ‘Wash and be cleansed’!” (v. 13)
Well, Namaan washed…and healing came. And in the process, he offered us a valuable lesson. So often, I think, we want the spiritual life to be about what we can do. Whether we aim for great acts of biblical knowledge or sacrificial giving — whether we pursue significant achievements in ecclesiastical faithfulness or evangelistic effectiveness — we want some sense that we’ve “earned” the growth that we receive. But even though there definitely is a place for “striving” in the Christian life — and even though we may be given opportunities “to do great things for God” — I become more and more convinced that these, ultimately, are not the things that remake us in the image of Christ. Instead, it is the little acts of everyday faithfulness that open us up to God’s Spirit and nurture His fruit within us.
I’m reminded of a reflection offered by the Methodist pastor Fred Craddock:
“Giving our lives for Christ looks glorious. To pour myself out for others—to pay the ultimate price—I’ll do it. I’m ready, Lord. I’m ready to go out in a blaze of glory. We think ‘giving our all to God’ is like taking a $1,000 bill and laying it on the table: ‘Here’s my life, Lord. I’m giving you everything.’
But the reality for most of us is that Jesus sends us to the bank and has us cash in our $1,000…for quarters. And then we go through life, putting out 25 cents here and 50 cents there. Listen to the neighbor kid’s troubles instead of saying, ‘Get lost.’ Go to a committee meeting. Give a cup of water to a shaky old man in a nursing home. Usually giving our life to Christ isn’t glorious. It’s done in all those little acts of love…25 cents at a time.”
What “little acts of everyday faithfulness” might God use this week to change you?
May we be willing to do the simple things through which God produces healing and Christlikeness in us.