Now there cried a certain woman of the wives of the sons of the prophets unto Elisha, saying, Thy servant my husband is dead; and thou knowest that thy servant did fear the LORD: and the creditor is come to take unto him my two sons to be bondmen.
And Elisha said unto her, What shall I do for thee? tell me, what hast thou in the house? And she said, Thine handmaid hath not any thing in the house, save a pot of oil. 2 Ki. 4:1-2
Everything appears dark in this account, but I see only light.
In the first place, I admire this woman. She could say of her husband, “thy servant did fear the LORD”. There could be no greater testimony to the piety of this man of God than such words coming from his wife. (Now, right here and as an aside, let me point out that today there are people who will publicly talk well of their spouses but, alas! it is only that – a publicity stunt! This was not the case with this woman.)
Back to our man. This poor servant of God died poor. He died leaving nothing in his house “save a pot of oil”! On top of that, he died in debt. And the creditor was coming to sell his two sons to regain his money!
We can’t begin to imagine the anguish of heart that this man must have gone to the grave bearing for the life of deprivation that he knew he had left his family with!
Well, the man died poor all right, but I like what his wife tells Elisha about him: “thou knowest that thy servant did fear the LORD”. This meant that even Elisha knew and could testify about the God-fearing life of this man. I like that. I like the fact that this man died fearing the Lord. That clicks with me. I am sure that was enough for God, too. This man was a great man in the sight of the Lord. I can easily tell you what happened to him when he died. He was immediately ushered into the presence of his Master where he was warmly told (by God Himself), “Come and sit by my side, thou good and faithful servant!”
Actually, the important thing in all this is that this man lived a God-fearing life. His state of need in this world did not lessen his piousness in the sight of God. You know, people today are trying to convince you that possessing material wealth is the sure marker that God is with you. They tell you that you will not borrow, but you will lend. In a rather hush-hush manner, poverty is now officially on the list of church ‘sins’ today. As a result of these damaging hyper-beliefs Christians are visibly struggling to keep up with the Joneses. They do not want to appear they are not blessed. What a futile race!
But here we see a righteous man who died not only poor, but in debt. This was a man who was running a different race. In his deep poverty, he could actually serve God in true liberty!
I don’t care one little bit about all the teachings about how wrong it is to be poor and in need, or even to be in debt. All I care about is that this man died in the fear of the Lord. I think I like it that way far much better than if he died rich. It beats all the pride and arrogance out of anyone, particularly those who put their trust in worldly wealth.
And actually, with regard to this, some people are completely out of touch with reality. I think they need to get out of their mansions and move around a bit. There are people in my part of the world who live in such abject poverty that all these stories about prosperity are so much confetti to them. These people live by faith. They literally trust in God for their very next meal. But in their state of want they are serving God in the Spirit. Someone who lives in ‘cloud nine’ or wherever, filled to the brim with the fat of this world, will turn over in their soft beds and claim, “I thank you, God, because I am not like these fellows who have no faith.”
But I can assure you that they have faith. The fact that this man died poor and in debt but walking in the fear of the Lord makes the point that money or worldly riches is nothing in God’s Kingdom. Money is not what comprises serving the Lord.
Someone almost had us there! Are you safe?
I can answer that question for you. It all depends on the gospel you are hearing. When you are hearing the right gospel, you will know what is important with God. True prosperity is the fear of God that a man carries in his heart.
By the way, do you see any signs of the cross in the life of this humble man of God?