Some things just don’t cost enough

Published 5:28 pm Tuesday, July 16, 2019

By Charles Qualls

What is the greatest value you think you have ever received? That thing which you got at a low, low price but actually turned out to be worth so much more? While we are thinking of our own economy of worth, what have you ever encountered that you didn’t buy, didn’t participate in, because it didn’t seem to be of worth?

As participants in a consumer economy, we are guided by three sometimes competing voices. You know them as well as I. One says, “Buy low and sell high!” But another says, “If it’s too good to be true, it probably is.” Similarly, yet another says, “Things of true worth should carry a price that reflects that worth.”

We all experience the consumer world a little differently, I suppose. Same thing, in some ways, with the spiritual realm. We all end up having to make our own unique decisions that determine a sense of worth we place on something.

I have probably reminded you before that Henry David Thoreau is supposed to have said, “The cost of a thing is the amount of … life which is required to be exchanged for it, immediately or in the long run.” In other words, how much of your time, energy, emotion, focus, money or work life do you put into the pursuit and the acquisition or the attainment of anything? These could be anything from a material good, a dream job, a dream house, status, achievement or even your ideal family setup?

Everything costs you some of your life, however infinitesimal or great the price is.

Naaman was a prominent person, as our text opens this week in 2 Kings 5: 1-14. Being the commander of Aram’s army, or anyone else’s army in that day, at least made you locally prominent. Sometimes wealthy. Bible stories are replete with mentions of households, servants, livestock and land that belonged to army commanders.

Naaman is no exception. Notice in our story that his wife had a servant who was the source of some thoughtful advice. I find it incredible that they ever even tried this plan, seeing as how ironic it was the one person in the household who knew about our Yahweh God and the prophet Elisha was the unnamed, humble servant.

But, she was actually from Israel. Great worth, hidden in the form of one who was subservient and a foreigner.

The king thought that surely there was something the Arameans were after. Check out his reaction in the story, as he tore his clothes in a grief-filled reaction to Naaman’s request. He thought that surely there was something they wanted to take from him. He thought it was a setup. When all along, what they needed most was access to God. It took Elisha, the great prophet, to set all this straight.

Only to then have Naaman be the next one to think that something was up because things seemed too cheap. Too simple. God’s grace was simply too cheap to be of any worth. Naaman’s ego and privilege was making the trust of Yahweh God appear to be too worthless to trust.

Well, what do we do with a story like this? What can we get from an episode like Naaman’s mysterious healing in the water that will translate to our own living?

Sometimes, we just can’t get out of our own way long enough to let God be God. Sometimes, God’s grace just seems too cheap. We can be a Naaman so easily, and right at the very moment that God has spoken simplicity or grace into our lives.

Your profoundly compelling life of faith, lived out in healthy and positive ways, speaks of a God who is worthy. Helping to heal our world and not hurt it further, even being kind, gentle, accepting and loving speaks of a God who is worthy. When you live in these healthy ways, your living testimony is the voice of the servants in this story. A voice telling others not to write God off as something that simply doesn’t cost enough.

THE REV. DR. CHARLES QUALLS is senior pastor at Franklin Baptist Church. Contact him at 562-5135.