Jump Start # 2543
2 Kings 5:11 “But Naaman was furious and went away and said, “Behold, I thought, ‘He will surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, and wave his hand over the place and cure the leper.’
Oh, Naaman. He is the subject of so many sermons. The mighty commander got a disease that he could not conquer. In the words of Humpty Dumpty, “all the king’s men and all the king’s horses” could not save Naaman. He was a doomed man. Word came, via a foreign servant girl about a prophet who could cure. Most know the story. The prophet didn’t actually come. A messenger told the commander to dip in the Jordan River seven times. Not the words he was expecting. Not the presentation he was hoping for.
This is where our verse comes in. Mad, Naaman goes away. “Behold, I thought,” he proclaimed. The prophet didn’t come. He didn’t waves his hands. He didn’t call on the name of his God. This was nothing like he thought it would be. Naaman had it in his mind how this ought to be. It wasn’t turning out that way. This couldn’t be right.
I want to journey down the road with Naaman’s expression, “Behold, I thought.” Assumptions. What we think things are or what we think things should be. Boy, I did a big one the other day. Did it in our Jump Starts. I have been cooking it hard lately, long hours. On the road a lot. Knowing what’s coming, I’ve tried to write ahead in our Jump Starts so I won’t have to skip any. And, this is where I fumbled. I assumed. I did a “behold I thought.”
Friday, I was writing about Hezekiah and God granting fifteen more years to his life. I wrote. It looked pretty good. And, I sent it out. Later, I gave it another look over. There it was. A major assumption that just wasn’t so. I had said that Hezekiah got a disease in his feet and died. That was the wrong king. It was Asa who had the bad feet. Hezekiah showed off the treasures of Judah to the Babylonians and for that God was set to punish the nation. Hezekiah, as far as I know, never had any feet problems. I was on the road and not at a place to do much about it. Then emails came. Nice. Kind. But gentle reminders that I got my kings mixed up. I hate being wrong about Bible things. That bothers me terribly. I doubt anyone would lose their soul because they went through life thinking Hezekiah had bad feet instead of Asa. Just a historical blunder, however, it happened because Mr. Roger didn’t slow down enough to check the facts. The ready “recollection” didn’t work so well that day.
And, all of this takes us to the much larger subject of assumptions. A person can lose their soul because of wrong assumptions. A person can mess things up really bad because they have always heard things a certain way or they have just always assumed it to be true.
Those Bereans come to our mind. They searched the Scriptures daily to see if things they were hearing was so. They looked. They did their homework. They understood the final answer was in the word of God. They didn’t rest upon assumptions. They didn’t just accept things because someone said it. They fact checked it with the word of God.
So, here are some simple take a ways from all of this:
First, your preacher isn’t always right. He tries to be. And, most times, he probably is. But, it’s a easy trap to fall into to assume that he always is. God’s word is always right. Always. So, I want people to bring their Bibles to worship. I want people to be following along as I preach. I want people to follow things because the Bible says so, not because I say it is so.
Second, many shortcuts lead to dead-ends. When teaching someone who doesn’t know the Bible, go over your verses ahead of time. Take the time to be accurate. Look. Study. Consider. When teaching classes, giving an invitation, preaching, your use of passages is more important than your illustrations, powerpoint or even what you say. It’s God and His word that will save someone. Take your time. Be thorough. Get it right.
Third, don’t ever settle or accept the “it’s in the Bible somewhere” concept. Find out where. In Luke four, Jesus opened the book and found the place where it was written. You do the same. Find where it is written. If you do not know, then maybe you should not share that comment. Maybe it’s not in the Bible. Maybe you thought it was in the Bible.
Fourth, when someone corrects you, be kind about it. Be thankful about that. Better to be corrected, than to be wrong. Better to learn and know than to go on with something that isn’t correct. We preachers are not perfect. In fact, we are not the smartest ones in the church building about the Bible. Now, if you know someone made a mistake, be kind about. Don’t blister the person. Don’t destroy him. Sometimes when we preachers are talking fast, our minds and tongues can’t keep up with each other. Things come out sideways and backwards and sometimes upside down. Don’t make it a capital offense. Help the guy out.
Naaman stands opposite of Jesus who said you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free. Knowing and guessing. Knowing and assuming. Knowing and “beholding I thought.” There is a difference. We can know. We can do better. We must.