When I realized that the soccer final between Spain and the Netherlands takes place this Sunday at 2:30 PM I faced a dilemma of sorts.
Nancy and I had already agreed to go to lunch after church with fellow believers in Jesus that we dearly love.
I’ve planned for a while now to take advantage of the cup final to build a bridge of connection with some of our neighbors by inviting them over to watch the game with us. They love football, as the rest of the world calls it.
What to do? I called our brother and sister and asked for permission to reschedule because I do not want to fail to capitalize on the opportunity to connect with my neighbors in hopes of building a bridge for the gospel. Our friends most graciously agreed and even applauded the motivation behind asking for release from our commitment! I knew they would. They are that kind of people.
The whole “dilemma” brought to mind a passage of Scripture from 2 Kings 7:1-10.
But Elisha said, “Hear the word of the Lord: thus says the Lord, Tomorrow about this time a seah of fine flour shall be sold for a shekel, and two seahs of barley for a shekel, at the gate of Samaria.” 2 Then the captain on whose hand the king leaned said to the man of God, “If the Lord himself should make windows in heaven, could this thing be?” But he said, “You shall see it with your own eyes, but you shall not eat of it.”3 Now there were four men who were lepers at the entrance to the gate. And they said to one another, “Why are we sitting here until we die? 4 If we say, ‘Let us enter the city,’ the famine is in the city, and we shall die there. And if we sit here, we die also. So now come, let us go over to the camp of the Syrians. If they spare our lives we shall live, and if they kill us we shall but die.” 5 So they arose at twilight to go to the camp of the Syrians. But when they came to the edge of the camp of the Syrians, behold, there was no one there. 6 For the Lord had made the army of the Syrians hear the sound of chariots and of horses, the sound of a great army, so that they said to one another, “Behold, the king of Israel has hired against us the kings of the Hittites and the kings of Egypt to come against us.” 7 So they fled away in the twilight and abandoned their tents, their horses, and their donkeys, leaving the camp as it was, and fled for their lives. 8 And when these lepers came to the edge of the camp, they went into a tent and ate and drank, and they carried off silver and gold and clothing and went and hid them. Then they came back and entered another tent and carried off things from it and went and hid them. 9 Then they said to one another, “We are not doing right. This day is a day of good news. If we are silent and wait until the morning light, punishment will overtake us. Now therefore come; let us go and tell the king’s household.” 10 So they came and called to the gatekeepers of the city and told them, “We came to the camp of the Syrians, and behold, there was no one to be seen or heard there, nothing but the horses tied and the donkeys tied and the tents as they were.”
The story concerns a miraculous reversal of fortune for Israel during siege warfare with Syria. God intervened by driving off the enemy on His own. Through an act of desperation, three lepers discovered the turn of events, happening on the empty Syrian camp with the intention of surrendering. They went nearly berserk with glee at their good fortune, devouring everything in sight!
Somewhere in the middle of their celebrating and stockpiling, the lepers came up short under an avalanche of conviction. It was time for another consultation. They said to one another, “We are not doing right. If we are silent and wait until the morning light, punishment will overtake us. Now therefore come; let us go and tell the king’s household.” Two things struck these men in their revelry. What they were doing was wrong AND it was risky. It wasn’t right. They knew in their hearts that God brought them on the camp not just for their own sakes but all of Samaria’s sake. To withhold the news would subject perhaps countless people to at the very least more suffering and at the very worst death. To remain silent was morally indefensible and outrageous.
And it was risky. They feared the punishment that would come should they withhold the blessing from the king’s household and the people he ruled. And so reason, responsibility, and duty won out. They went and told the good news in v. 10. And their feet were indeed beautiful to all who heard (Isa. 52:7).
We must fight the temptation to do spiritually the very thing these lepers first did materially. By all means we should delight in the surpassing pleasures of Christ, revel in His goodness, feast on His word, bask in His fellowship. But beware the temptation to hoard. Beware the folly of silence when it comes to your testimony. Jesus told the demoniac made whole in Mark 5:19 – Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you and how he had mercy on you. Paul in 2 Cor. 5:18-20 says we have received the ministry of reconciliation, that we are ambassadors for Jesus Christ, God making his appeal through us.
Charles Spurgeon spoke forcefully on the implications of this text:
What, my dear brothers? Are you saved in the Lord with an everlasting salvation and can you keep the blessing to yourself? Do you not wonder that all the timbers in your house do not groan at you and that the earth itself does not open her mouth to rebuke you? Can you be such an ungrateful wretch as to have tasted of amazing mercy and yet to have no word to say by way of confessing it? Suppose He should come tonight, and you, who have thought that you knew Him and loved Him, should never have sought to win a soul for Him—how will you face Him? How will you answer your Lord, whom you have never acknowledged? You knew the way of salvation and you concealed it! You knew the balm for the wounds of sinners and you let them bleed to death! They were thirsty and you gave them no draught of Living Water. They were hungry and you gave them no Bread of Life. Sirs, I cannot venture to His Judgment Seat with such a blot upon my soul? Can you? Oh, by the love of God, or even by a lower motive, by the love of your fellow men, burst your bands asunder and speak out for Christ! Or else, if your profession is true, you are not doing right, indeed, and I believe there is reason to question your religion.
Where are you taking steps to build bridges for the gospel taking advantage of things like the World Cup and the opportunity it affords to do lifestyle evangelism?
Let’s do less hoarding and more sharing. The news we have to share with lost people is even more stunningly good than that of the lepers of 2 Kings 7.