Naaman was a valiant military commander, but he suffered with leprosy. He traveled to Israel, hoping the God of the Hebrews would heal him; but when Naaman arrived at Elisha’s house, the prophet didn’t even bother to step outside. Instead, Elisha sent a messenger with odd-sounding instructions: “Go, wash yourself seven times in the Jordan.” Elisha’s response offended Naaman’s dignity, and the proud soldier left in a huff. He expected Elisha to do something flashy—say a prayer, wave his hand, produce an instant cure. Dip seven times in the muddy Jordan River? What good would that do?
Naaman’s servants, however, reasoned with their irate boss. They asked, “If the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it?” Naaman heeded their wise advice. As his humility increased, his anger subsided. (Funny how that happens!) When Naaman humbled himself and dipped seven times in the Jordan, “his flesh was restored and became clean like that of a young boy” (2 Kings 5:1-14). God’s ways are always right, even when they aren’t as glitzy as we expect.
I have a bit of Naaman’s attitude inside my own heart. What about you? Many of us carry around a set of assumptions about what God should do and how he should do it. If the Lord required “some great thing,” the challenge might inspire us. But what about the unspectacular little steps of faith God asks us to take on a daily basis? It’s fine to approach God with mountain-moving requests, but do we appreciate the hills he’s already moved? Why should God give us big blessings if we aren’t grateful for the little ones? Dreamers fantasize about winning the lottery and giving millions of dollars to charitable causes, but are we faithful and generous with the modest salaries we already earn?
Once in a while, faith requires bold risks and giant leaps. More often, it requires routine choices and small sacrifices no one notices except the Lord. Whether your faith is the size of a mustard seed or a bowling ball, what will you do with it? How does faith affect your daily life?
Faithful in Small Things
Cain and Abel had a lot in common. They shared the same DNA and attended the same tiny family reunion. Both of them had the opportunity to honor God with an offering derived from the fruit of their daily work. But the differences between the two brothers were enormous. Abel approached God with sincere faith (Hebrews 11:4), while his brother’s motives were evil (1 John 3:12). Resentful and bitter, Cain tried to sidestep responsibility with a famous question: “Am I my brother’s keeper?” (Genesis 4:9).
A wise person observed, “Life is hard because it’s so daily.” Jesus said his disciples must “take up their cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23). That’s often where faith plays its most valuable role—in our daily routines. Faith should shape the way we approach ordinary situations, not just the extraordinary ones. On a daily basis, faith should move us to put service above self, choose God’s will over self-will, and prioritize the needs of our brothers and sisters over our own.
Faith moved Abel to give God his best. On every ordinary day, we can do the same.
David Faust serves as the Associate Minister at East 91st Street Christian Church in Indianapolis, Indiana.
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