Study 4 A PEN-PICTURE OF A MAN OF GOD
Studies in the Life of Elisha
by Francis Dixon
(Scripture Portion: 2 Kings 4: 8-17)
The story of the “well-to-do woman” of Shunem is one of the most touching episodes in scripture. We first read of her in 2 Kings 4:8, where we learn that as Elisha went about his Master’s business he visited her home, and she at once recognised that he was “a holy man of God” (2 Kings 4:9) - not just “a man of God”, but “a holy man of God”. Do these words describe us? They should if we are Christians, for God requires and has made it possible that we should live holy lives - look up 1 Thessalonians 4:7.
The late Canon Guy King suggests that there are three distinctive characteristics of a man or a woman whom God calls “holy”. A holy man is: (1) one who believes in God; (2) one who belongs to God; (3) one who behaves like God. Do we believe and trust in Him, live and act as those who belong to Him, and behave like Him? In 2 Kings 4: 9 we are told several things that will be true of us if we are living holy lives.
1. A HOLY MAN NEVER NEEDS TO WORRY ABOUT THE PROVISION OF HIS DAILY NEEDS.
Many of the Lord’s people are very anxious about the matter of their provision, but if we are seeking to live a holy life we need not be anxious, for just as God used the woman of Shunem to feed Elisha, He will use someone to feed and to provide for us. He fed and cared for Elijah at Zarephath and at Cherith (1 Kings 17: 2-16), and He will do similarly for every one of His children in time of need - look up Psalm 34:10; Matthew 6:31-34; Philippians 4:19, and then see what Psalm 37:25 says.
2. A HOLY MAN IS ALWAYS VERY QUICKLY NOTICED
As Elisha passed by, this woman soon recognised the characteristics of a holy man in him; she sensed that there was something different about him. Perhaps he gave thanks before a meal and his conversation was different; he was polite, considerate and helpful, until perhaps she asked herself, “What has he got that I haven’t?” Do our loved-ones “perceive” that we are “a holy man of God”, or is ours an empty kind of profession? – look up 2 Timothy 3:5.
3. A HOLY MAN SOON BECOMES THE TOPIC OF CONVERSATION
When the woman recognised that Elisha was a holy man she told her husband of him - and other people heard about him as well. We are all the subject of someone’s conversation, but what do they say about us? Do they say:-
- 1. “If that’s his religion, I don’t want it …”?
- 2. “He calls himself a Christian, but he’s not honest …”?
- 3. “She’s a church-goer, but she’s thoroughly selfish… ”?
- 4. “They say they are Christians, but I can’t tell the difference …”?
- 5. “They’re just wonderful! You can tell they’re real Christians… ”?
Romans 14:7 tells us that “none of us lives to himself alone”; we are constantly under the scrutiny of other people. Do they see Christ in us?
4. A HOLY MAN GETS HIS BIGGEST OPPORTUNITY AND IS NEEDED MOST IN THE EVERYDAY SPHERES OF LIFE
Elisha was exercising a mighty ministry, not in the pulpit but in the home. He was not preaching; he was living a holy life each moment of the day, and that most of all is what is needed. If a few thousand more Christians really lived holy lives in their business, school, factory or home, revival would soon come to our land - compare Ezekiel 36:23 with John 20:25. The great need today is for Christians to be like the One whose name they bear; for Christian doctors, bankers, workers in industry, housewives… simply to live the Christian life!
5. A HOLY MAN WILL ALWAYS SEE RESULTS FROM HIS CONSISTENT HOLY LIVING.
Elisha did! He was invited to stay in the home at Shunem, and he was used to bring wonderful blessing into the life of this childless woman as the result of his presence and prophecy in the name of the Lord. What fruit resulted! - see 2 Kings 4: 11-17. Older Christians are often very concerned because they do not know of many, or any, who have come to Christ as the result of their labours, but if we are faithful in serving the Lord, and especially in consistent and Christlike living, we need have no fear about the results. Therefore, Galatians 6:9! In “that day” (2 Timothy 1:12) many who have seen few results from their service will get a great surprise as they hear their Lord say - Matthew 25:21!
I’d rather see a sermon than hear one any day.
I’d rather one should walk with me than merely tell the way.
The eye’s a better pupil and more willing than the ear;
Fine counsel is confusing, but example’s always clear.
The best of preachers are the ones who demonstrate their creeds,
For to see good put in action is what everybody needs.
One good man teaches many; men believe what they behold:
One deed of kindness noticed is worth forty that are told.
Who stands with men of honour learns to hold his honour dear,
For right living speaks a language which to everyone is clear;
Though an able speaker charms me with eloquence, I say,
I’d rather see a sermon than hear one any day.
If we are faithful in our believing, our belonging and our behaving, our lives also will be fruitful to the glory of God - see what 1 Corinthians 15:58 says.
Closing Thought: 1 Peter 1:14-16.