14. Naaman's Little Maid.

One occasionally hears of young believers who are possessed of such ardent aspirations to become distinguished witnesses for their Master, that they express a wish even for the revival of the "good old days" of Queen Mary or of the Inquisition so that there might be a possibility of their being stretched on the rack and burnt at the stake. This zealous spirit, however laudable in itself, is really uncalled for; since we are taught in scripture not to court but to flee persecution (Matt. 10:23). Though if called, like Stephen, to magnify Christ by death, we are to meet it fearlessly even in its worst form.

The fact is that the great majority of Christians during the far greater portion of their lives are required to testify for the Lord amid the most ordinary circumstances. How many there are, for instance, who hardly ever step out of the routine of the family circle, or the round of relatives and friends, or the circle of business associates. In such cases are there no opportunities to testify for Christ? None, perhaps, that will bring the witness before the public gaze of man; but many the far-reaching influence of which will only be known at the judgment seat of Christ. Who can tell the effect of the loving word and the kindly deed done and said in the name of the Master?

We have in scripture an instructive example of one whose simple and faithful testimony God owned and used and chronicled for our imitation. The person by whom Naaman, the Syrian leper, was directed to the prophet of Jehovah was a little maid in his household.

This girl was snatched away from her relations and her home in the land of Israel by one of the bands of Syrian marauders. She was forced to exchange her liberty for slavery in a foreign clime, and for slavery which was inseparable from temptations and hardships that, without a secret supply of strength, were enough to quench her moral and spiritual life. Besides, this little daughter of Israel found herself in a land where the true God was unknown, and where idol worship was supreme. There was not one in Damascus who was likely to instruct Naaman's little slave-girl in the law of Moses. Can we wonder if she was tempted sometimes to abandon her faith in Jehovah and bow herself in "the house of Rimmon" like all the other slaves in the great general's house? But the fear of Jehovah was before her eyes, and she would have no other gods before Him; she stood firm in her faith.

It was in connection with this terrible disease of her master that an opportunity was afforded her of declaring in that heathen court that Jehovah could do what the skilled physicians and false deities of Syria were unable to do, "Would God," she said one day to her mistress, "my lord were with the prophet that is in Samaria; for he would recover him of his leprosy" (2 Kings 5:3).

It required some considerable degree of faith in God for her to make such an assertion as this; for leprosy was generally understood to be incurable. But she evidently believed Jehovah could and moreover that He would cure Naaman. Doubtless she remembered what He had done for Moses (Ex. 4:6) and for Miriam (Num. 12); but how did she know that He would heal a Gentile? This was faith indeed. The little slave-girl laid hold upon the grace of God in a way little known in the Old Testament times.* And what she believed she stated simply and confidently.

{*See the use the Lord makes of this incident in illustration of the grace He came to preach (Luke 4:27).}

But I pray you not to overlook another feature of her testimony which makes it even more beautiful. The expression she used to Naaman's wife was evidently prompted by a kindly concern for the man whom she might well regard as the cause of her misfortunes. For Naaman, if he did not accompany the expeditions himself, was responsible for them. But the little maid knew what it was in some degree to love her enemies and forgive them. She pitied her leprous master and owed him no grudge for the loss of her home and her country. It was his welfare alone that was before her when she made the suggestion. The spirit of Christ was in her heart; indeed we may say it is never absent from any true testimony for God.

Her words did not fall to the ground. When do they if they spring from a heart full of love and devotion? Moreover her life must have commended her words; for Naaman, shrewd man of the world, would not have started off on a long journey if he considered them no more than a child's extravagant wish, and that child his wife's slave. Whatever his hopes, he went to Samaria, and as we know, he was healed through the word of the prophet.

Now, some of you perhaps are wishing you could do the same as Naaman's little maid. Why should you not? Probably you are not in exactly the same kind of circumstances as she was. But still like her you may be surrounded by godlessness. Be sure, therefore, to let every word and action show to others that you have unbounded faith in God, and that you are animated by a sincere desire that the blessing of God may be upon them, even though they persecute you because you are Christ's.

It is such testimony that God owns and blesses. And it is within the reach of all to speak the simple word pointing out the direction in which salvation is to be obtained, backing up the word with a faithful life. Very few are able to explain to audiences the doctrine of justification by faith and expiation by blood. But everyone can point the sinner to Christ, and say, "That is the One to save you." Only you must give others to see that you have been to Him yourself, and that He has given you something not to be obtained anywhere else.

We see from the narrative in 2 Kings 5 that the little maid was actually of more service to the poor leper than Jehoram, king of Israel, who gave himself up to expressions of impotent despair. So, please remember that the silent influence of a Christian life, and the earnestly spoken desire for another's salvation is more often the means of blessing than the bushels of sermons intended to make the sinner as comfortable as possible in Damascus, rather than to send him down to the waters of Jordan.