Giving and Taking

Travis West

READ : 2 Kings 5:15-19a

Please let me, your servant, be given . . . (v. 17 Jewish Publication Society)

The word “take,” in Hebrew laqach (la-kaKH), appears ten times in this chapter and is implied another ten times. “Taking” echoes 20 times in just 27 verses. This suggests that this story has something to teach about the theology of giving and taking. Naaman begins as a taker. He takes credit for his military victories, takes a slave girl from Israel (then takes her advice!), and takes gifts with him to Israel to barter for healing. Naaman is bound to a lifestyle of taking, where he always has power and is in control.

After Naaman receives healing in the Jordan (v. 14), he returns to Elisha and pleads with him to take a gift (v. 15). But Elisha refuses and by doing so teaches Naaman about the true source and distribution of power in God’s economy. Power is not the ability to take whatever you want whenever you want it. Power is the love and generosity of God filling the earth. Power is giving, rather than taking. Naaman is changed, and his language changes accordingly: “Let a gift be given to your servant.” He is no longer a general, but a servant; no longer a taker, but a receiver.

Naaman has moved from sickness to health, from the world’s economics to the economy of the Kingdom of God. It is the difference between taking and receiving, between hoarding and giving. There is no need to take in the Kingdom of God; there is grace enough for all to receive.

PRAYER

Empower us to give freely.