Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
June 27, 1957

"Some Great Thing"

B. C. Goodpasture

(Editor's note: This article was originally written by our brother editor some seven or eight years ago, and was re-printed in the Gospel Advocate a few weeks ago by request of one of the readers. It well expresses the truth, and we are happy to commend it to the careful reading of all. It certainly strikes at the heart of the 'On the march" philosophy of many of our "promoting" brethren of more recent years.)

Naaman, captain of the host of the king of Syria, is remembered as the leper whom Elisha, the prophet, leansed. The captain had expected the prophet to feel so complimented by his coming that he would show him some special consideration. It was most disappointing, however, when Elisha sent his servant unto him saying: 'Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and thy flesh shall come again to thee, and thou shalt be clean." (2 Kings 5:10.) This was too much for Naaman. It was adding insult to injury. It was bad enough not to come out to see him, to say nothing of asking him to dip seven times in the muddy Jordan! It was so foreign to what the captain had expected. Said he: "I thought, He will surely come to me, and stand, and call on the name of Jehovah his God, and wave his hand over the place, and recover the leper." Besides, he continued: "Are not Abanah and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel?"

The distinguished leper had desired and expected the prophet to make a great deal of ado over him and cleanse him in some impressive and spectacular manner. He had expected that Elisha would do "some great thing," which would flatter his vanity. This was apparent even to his servants, who, perceiving his rage, said: "My father, if the prophet had bid thee do some great thing, wouldest thou not have done it? how much rather then, when he saith to thee, Wash, and be clean?" This appeal of the servants brought Naaman to his sense. He washed in Jordan according to the words of the prophet, and was clean.

This spirit of hankering for "some great thing," unfortunately, did not die with Naaman. It lives on in those who "despise the day of small things." To them the mountain-rending storm, the mighty earthquake, and the consuming fire are to be preferred to the "still small voice." (1 Kings 19:11,12.) This spirit prefers propaganda to preaching, institutionalism to the church, and material show to spiritual strength and resources. It moves men to build up a personal following rather than the church of the Lord. It inspires men to think more highly of themselves than they ought. We have heard of a preacher who refused to preach to a small audience on a very snowy day, because, said he, "it is not fitting to dispatch a cannon at snowbirds." Christ could preach to a fallen woman at Jacob's well, and Philip could preach Christ to the eunuch on the highway, but this preacher was "too big" to preach to a small audience on a wintry day. Doubtless if the house had been large and well filled he would have been willing to do "some great thing." Paul and Silas spoke to a few women by a riverside near Philippi. They were not too big for "small occasions." But God had called them to Macedonia to preach the gospel. This they did. Their prime consideration was to plant churches rather than to build schools and orphanages. If they found themselves among those who judged themselves unworthy of eternal life, they moved on and preached to others. They thought it sufficient to give the people an opportunity to hear and obey the gospel.

"Set not your mind on high things, but condescend to things that are lowly." (Rom. 12:16.)