I wish to warn you against a great danger that confronts those who are denomination ally employed. This problem has very recently come into focus before me as I have at the moment a request from a group of Seventh- day Adventist workers, as good and as bad as you, for a five-day working week. I shall be come an antiquarian, however, and select the illustration for this lesson from the dust of the past. It is just as pointed and perhaps less embarrassing.
I refer you to 2 Kings 5:14-27. You remember how Elisha's servant Gehazi was not satisfied when his master refused to accept gifts from Naaman after curing him of leprosy. So after they had taken their leave Gehazi decided to run back and "take somewhat of him." Although the prophet was not present he knew what happened, and rebuked Gehazi, pronouncing the curse of Naaman's leprosy upon him in turn.
This lesson frightens me, for I stand in Gehazi's shoes as do you. How could a man wait upon a prophet of God, join in his devotions daily, see his power, share in his prayers, breathe his influence, and not partake of him? Constant contact with holiness had tarnished its luster. You have stood at the side of the ocean, seen the tide come in, and engulf some rock and cover it; and in due time the tide recedes, and the rock engulfed in the tide is unmoved thereby.
What is wrong with Gehazi? Was the sin in the falsehood? "Sin has many tools, but a lie is the handle which fits them all." Was there anything basically wrong in Gehazi's having a raise in wages? Everybody is seeking something. One hundred years ago this very year clouds of dust were rising from the Western ^prairies as wagons lumbered westward seeking gold. What was Gehazi seeking? The work of God had become merely a job. Gehazi could say, "I am in God's work. I am part of the organized work." And yet the work had ceased to be the objective of his heart. He approved of it. He had a part in it, but he compromised the objectives of the prophet's work with his own interest. The prophet by inference puts his finger directly on the thing that is wrong, "Is it a time to receive money, and to receive garments, and oliveyards, and vineyards, and sheep, and oxen, and menservants, and maid servants?"
Elisha looked about him, and saw the evil nations that knew not Jehovah. He saw a great and tremendous work to be done. His eye discerned that a large portion of Israel had lost interest in the objectives of their religion, and his heart recognized that it was not a time to focus the attention of life on gold and raiments and lambs. The focus of Gehazi's life had changed from seeking to bring a knowledge of Jehovah to the nation to seeking to gain a few paltry gifts for himself.
And what are we seeking? Our vision can be clouded just as easily as could Gehazi's. We stand in Gehazi's shoes. There were times perhaps when the acquiring of lands and vineyards and possession's might have been proper. But what about now and this time and us? One of the greatest dangers that confronts our work is that the enthusiasm and conviction will be lost, that the focus will change, that money will become more and more important.
Examine Motives in Our Work
Nearly everyone sees the Readers' Digest, and yet I cannot refrain from referring to re cent lines there. This little story was among the lines at the end of an article. If I recall cor rectly, it was of a French claim office that had recently been closed in Paris. Perhaps it was established for settling claims from the Franco- Prussian War, but it had been in operation without a claim's having been presented for settlement for thirty-five years. Every morning at nine the doors opened, and every evening at five they closed, and yet there was not the slightest intention of ever finishing the work.
As I read this a great lesson came home to me. Are we working at the work, are we working for the work, are we working with the work, or are we sincerely endeavoring-to finish it? There is great danger that we work at it and for it without any serious intent of actually finishing it, without any undried tears for our lack of concern. "Is it a time to receive money, and to receive garments, and oliveyards, and vineyards, and sheep, and oxen, and menserv- ants, and maidservants?" I would like to refer you to a text found in Jeremiah 45 15: "And seekest thou great things for thyself ? seek them not."