"THE RIGHT STUFF!"
TEXTS: II Kings 4:8-37; 8:1-6
INTRO: We are living at a time when our school systems talk about motherhood in terms of a biological function, not in terms of character development. Health classes mostly deal with how a woman becomes pregnant, preventing pregnancy and sexual diseases, and the hormonal drives that work to produce children. Schools may teach things about diapering a baby, how to nurse, how to feed, and basic practical functions … but almost nothing about the character of being a good mom. So often the most important elements of good parenting are completely ignored! Such things as faithfulness, compassion, forgiveness, self-sacrificing, encouraging, or spirituality, etc. are not even dealt with.
The right stuff is more than just biology or practical needs being met, the great qualities of character is what makes a great woman, or a great mom … or for that matter a great person in God's eyes.
PROP. SENT: The Bible teaches us that godly character can weather the rough times in life and transform the lives around us.
I. TRUE CHARACTER 4:8-17
A. Compassionate 4:8-10
1. Notice that this future mother is never once named, she is only called the "Shunammite." It isn't her name but character that is the focus of the story.
a. She is described as "well-to-do" … a woman of means.
b. Her wealth however had not corrupted her, notice that she asks her husband to provide a room for the traveling man of God named Elisha.
c. It is also interesting to note that she could tell that Elisha was a genuine man of God, she knew the real from the fake.
2. There doesn't seem to be any ulterior motive for making a place for Elisha either, she does not ask anything from him, nor expects anything in return for the use of the room.
a. This is a woman who cares about others.
b. She sees wealth as an opportunity to bless others and not just to hoard things for her own needs.
3. Already her character is showing through, character that gets God's attention.
B. Contented 4:11-13
1. Elisha calls the Shunammite woman before him with his own servant Gehazi to ask her what could be done to reward her kindness.
a. Elisha is amazed at this woman, not once does she ask anything back for the kindness shown to him.
b. Proof that her kindness had no ulterior motive.
2. Rather than be consumed about her own needs she simply enjoys ministering to others, the true heart of a mother!
ILLUS:Countless times each day a mother does what no one else can do quite as well. She wipes away a tear, whispers a word of hope, eases a child's fear. She teaches, ministers, loves, and nurtures the next generation of citizens. And she challenges and cajoles her kids to do their best and be the best. But no editorials praise these accomplishments - where is the coverage our mothers rightfully deserve? -- James C. Dobson (1936- ) and Gary L. Bauer (1946- ) - Edythe Draper, Draper's Book of Quotations for the Christian World (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1992). Entry 7844.
3. Her response to Elisha's request to do something for her in return for her kindness is quite telling about her character, she says, "I have a home among my own people."
a. What she simply meant was "I'm just fine, I have everything I need already and I am contented and happy."
b. One can sense that this woman would be happy poor or rich!
c. She had godly contentment already.
4. This was extraordinary especially in light of the fact that she was childless, a terrible state for a woman of that time, yet she asks for nothing, not even a child.
a. In that day a woman could be scorned for not having produced a child, but she does not complain even about this.
b. Her life was focused on what she has and not what was lacking.
C. Careful 4:14-17
1. Elisha however wants to bless this woman, and so he persists in trying to discover some need she might have even if she asks for nothing. His servant Gehazi comes up with a suggestion: 2 Ki 4:14-16a "What can be done for her?" Elisha asked. Gehazi said, "Well, she has no son and her husband is old." Then Elisha said, "Call her." So he called her, and she stood in the doorway. "About this time next year," Elisha said, "you will hold a son in your arms."
a. Here is a woman who should be a mom, she already possesses the right stuff!
b. Obviously her pain over being childless is real, obvious from her response, "No, my lord," she objected. "Don't mislead your servant, O man of God!"
c. This was not doubt, just the reaction of hidden pain unexpressed before and now brought out in the possibility that perhaps it could yet happen.
d. Her response simply reveals deeply hidden emotions, and the fear that her hopes might be raised only to be unrealized, a thought she couldn't face.
2. Notice that even in these moments she is careful about her own character … Elisha calls her to his room, but she does not enter, she only stands in the doorway so there is no question about improper contact with another man.
a. She avoids even the appearance of evil.
b. "So he called her, and she stood in the doorway."
c. Notice she never enters the room … with another man alone in the room and her husband probably out in the fields she does nothing to compromise her moral integrity.
3. This was a woman who paid attention to details of integrity … exactly what a godly person should do!
ILLUS:The statue of Liberty was built in the late 1800's. The craftsmen who worked on it paid as much attention to the details on the top of the stature as they did to the rest of the statue though at that time there was no way for anyone to ever notice it; no planes flew at that time, no high rises, etc. It wasn't until the early 1900's when airplanes were able to fly above it that people noticed the exquisite details and beauty of the top. The workmen that had built it earlier could have argued reasonably that such detail on the top wasn't even necessary but they were more than craftsmen, they were artists, so all details were important whether they were seen or not. Such should be our lives. -- Unknown source.
4. This Shunammite woman would not sacrifice details of integrity even in an emotional moment; this demonstrated strong discipline.
5. A godly life cannot be lived without such discipline, especially during emotional moments.
a. We should always be careful with our lifestyle.
b. We cannot let our guard down for even a few moments.
II. TESTED & CONFLICT 4:18-37
A. Calamity! 4:18-20
1. God answers her hidden desire to be a mom, and in keeping with Elisha's prophecy the Shunammite woman has a baby, a son.
a. A son was a double blessing for it meant the continuation of the family name.
b. Her inward anguish is removed and she is blessed beyond expectation.
2. In the midst of her heart's desire however the unspeakable occurs!
a. Her only son has some kind of attack in his head and he collapses.
b. The text suggests something like an aneurysm bursting in his head.
c. It would lead to his death in a short period of time.
3. The father simply tells his servant to take him to his mother … perhaps he thought it not that serious.
a. When her son is brought to her she sets him on her lap and holds him until noon when tragically the boy dies!
b. A mother's greatest fear is realized, her only son is dead!
c. There was nothing she could do … except go to God!
4. The greatest crisis cannot break her faith, and the next events prove this.
a. Mom, (or dad!) … what do you do when calamity hits your family and your life?
b. God can be trusted in all circumstances.
B. Courage 4:21-37
1. She takes her dead son up to the Elisha's room and lays him on Elisha's bed.
a. She is not yet ready to give up, what she can't do she will seek for God to do.
b. She shows courage in the midst of calamity!
2. She approaches her husband to go get Elisha … but he thinks it not that important … she avoids telling him about their son's death because she knows perhaps that he can do nothing and so why frustrate him until she has heard from God.
a. She will not allow God to be limited by anyone in this situation.
b. When her husband seems unwilling to go she saddles up the donkey herself and gets her servant to take her to find Elisha.
3. As she approaches Elisha Gehazi is sent to greet her and ask why she had come, if everything was well at home with her husband and child and amazingly she says to Gehazi, "everything is all right."
a. Why did she say this?
b. She did not want an intermediate like Gehazi to deal with her, she wanted to go as directly to God as possible, this meant dealing directly with Elisha!
4. When she comes to Elisha she throws herself at his feet and cries out, her anguish obvious in her statement: 2 Ki 4:28 "Did I ask you for a son, my lord?" she said. "Didn't I tell you, 'Don't raise my hopes'?"
a. This isn't doubt, just emotions pouring out.
b. If she had doubted she would not have sought Elisha out.
c. But she is in distress, but came to the right source.
5. Elisha seems amazed that God had hidden the need from him, but never the less he says that Gehazi will come with his staff and lay it on the boy for healing. 2 Kings 4:29
a. However, this won't do for her, she wants Elisha to come himself, she wants nothing less than God's trusted servant to touch her son.
b. She would take no chances with someone else but the proven character of God's servant.
c. Elisha agrees to come, and sure enough, Gehazi's attempt fail before they get there, yet this does not faze her faith.
6. Sure enough, once Elisha gets there he begins to pray and intercede and God heals the boy and returns him back to life again.
7. Her joy is returned and her faith rewarded … her courage was not unfounded.
III. TESTIMONY CELEBRATED 8:1-6
A. Challenges 8:1-4
1. Though she passed through one extreme test of faith and calamity it was not a guarantee that she would not face another … this is life!
a. Sure enough, another tragedy strikes, famine is coming to the land.
b. Elisha shows up to instruct them how to survive this newest of trials.
2. She and her husband have learned to obey God no matter what, and though there is no proof yet of famine they simply trust in God's Word.
a. This is always a good response to God's Word, to trust without proof!
b. They will follow what God asks of them no matter what the world says.
ILLUS:Blind skiers were featured in the 1988 winter Olympics. How did they ski being blind? They were paired with sighted skiers who would simply yell, "LEFT" or "RIGHT" when the time came to turn, and the blind skiers obeyed without question! Their obedience brought reward. When we can't see what God is doing we can still listen to His Word, and what it says we must obey if we want the journey to end correctly. The only safe way down the mountain when you are blind is to obey without question! -- Source unknown.
3. Elisha tells them to leave the area for 7 years during the famine.
a. There is no hesitation in their response: 2 Ki 8:2 "The woman proceeded to do as the man of God said. She and her family went away and stayed in the land of the Philistines seven years."
b. While obeying God won't prevent every disaster in life, it will help us survive them with His power and provision.
c. Their obedience likely saved them from greater disaster.
d. Obedience meant some discomfort, but not disaster.
(1. They had to live among strangers, the Philistines.
(2. They would be away from their home and property for a long time.
4. Upon returning at the end of the 7 years in exile they faced yet another difficult situation, all the land and property had been confiscated in their absence.
a. They have to beg for the return of what was rightfully theirs.
b. Here again they are challenged to trust God, after this many years it would be difficult to get back their former stuff.
5. As always, they trust God in the process … and He doesn't disappoint their faith.
B. Compensation 8:5-6
1. At the very moment the Shunammite woman comes to the king to ask for everything back it just so happens that Gehazi was there telling the king about Elisha's ministry at raising her son from the dead.
a. How many of you know that this timing was not an accident?
b. The king gets to meet the mother of the miracle … and he is so impressed and amazed that he immediately assigns someone to look into her case and get everything back … and even more than that!
c. "Give back everything that belonged to her, including all the income from her land from the day she left the country until now."
d. She not only gets back everything she had before but she gets back the income from the land over the 7 years they were gone!
e. There was no loss at all; in fact, though they were gone and others did the work they benefited 100% of what they thought they had lost as income over the 7 years absence.
2. God compensated them for what they thought they had lost … only because they never questioned God's will or word, they simply obeyed when they heard the word of God from His prophet Elisha.
a. Sometimes compensation doesn't show up till later, but never underestimate God's faithfulness!
b. The right stuff brings the right stuff!
3. God moves the world for godly women or men … how about you?
CONCLUSION: What's the right stuff for being a great mom? The world's answers are many: highly educated, career woman, independent, etc. The bible demonstrates that essentially one main characteristic need to be present -- an unshakeable trust in God! God doesn't forget your faithfulness mom, don't forget His!