Musa Gotom: Respect and Reassure

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So the king sent a third captain with his fifty men. This third captain went up and fell on his knees before Elijah. “Man of God,” he begged, “please have respect for my life and the lives of these fifty men, your servants! See, fire has fallen from heaven and consumed the first two captains and all their men. But now have respect for my life!” The angel of the Lord said to Elijah, “Go down with him; do not be afraid of him.” So Elijah got up and went down with him to the king. 2 Kings 1:13-15

“Elijah’s message was one of judgment: because the king was consulting Baal-Zebub instead of the God of Israel, he could expect death, not healing… Ahaziah’s response to this message was not one of repentance but confrontation. He sent a captain and a squad of fifty men to arrest Elijah… Still the king did not repent, but sent another squad who suffered the same fate as the first one. We do not know whether Elijah took this action because of his own fear or whether he was directed to do it by God… Ahaziah then sent a third group, but the captain of this group was more careful. He realized that he was dealing with the Lord’s powerful representative, and he begged that their lives be spared. The angel of the Lord reassured Elijah that it would be safe to go and meet the king.”

Musa Gotom (Nigeria) in “2 Kings” in Africa Bible Commentary, Tokunboh Adeyemo, General Editor (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2006) 443.

Two thoughts surface in this obscure text from Elijah. I will share them and how I think they relate to generosity.

Firstly, when a worker of God engages people that are making bad choices or dishonoring God, it is easy for us to want to judge and destroy them. To lose respect for them and the value of their lives. The plea of the captain for respect struck me.

In my inner man, on trips like this, where there is so much brokenness and corruption in the systems, my tendency in my flesh is toward judgment. For example, “No wonder things are in disrepair. People are behaving irresponsibly.”

God is working in me, replacing condemnation with compassion in me and moving me to be generous to show respect to every person I meet on this trip. Perhaps you can relate to these inner thoughts and the change of mindset we need?

Secondly, part of our desire to judge and condemn others finds roots in fear. Elijah was afraid the leaders of the broken system would overcome him. Notice the Angel of the Lord reassures Elijah, basically saying, God is still in charge and can be trusted.

These ideas relate to generosity in that we must give everyone we serve a generous dose of dignity and respect, regardless of their choices, as they are made in the image of God.

And we must listen to Jesus and find our reassurance from Him rather than functioning out of fear in difficult situations. Many believe the “angel of the Lord” in the Old Testament is Jesus appearing on the scene.

I’ve arrived in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire with Samson Adoungbe (pictured above). Thanks for your prayers as we engage influential pastors and ministry workers on the topic of “Stewardship and Standards – Two Keys to Strengthen Sustainable Ministries.”

Pray for us to continue to show compassion, love, and respect to all we serve and to find reassurance from God in moments of stress and challenge. I pray God empowers you to do this generously wherever you serve today too!