God’s Definition of Greatness
II Kings 4:8
Intro: Without exception, we all should want to be great. We should desire to make a significant contribution to the kingdom of God. If you don’t, that is a problem.
If your idea of Christianity is “flying under the radar”, you’re missing it.
Great Christians do not live in a comfort zone of inaction and comfort.
They are compelled to move, to grow, to expand their horizons.
Leaders do not wait to be motivated; they are self-motivated.
This Shunammite woman was an example to all of us of God’s definition of greatness.
God called her “a great woman”, yet her name is not even mentioned.
What made her so great?
I. She was Serving – v. 8-10
- Matthew 23:11 But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant.
He had a need. The need to eat. She had an ability. The ability to cook.
A Servant is a person that meets the need of someone else.
She chose to use her ability to meet a need.
- 1 John 3:17 But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?
You can look at needs in the ministry as an OBIGATION or you can look at them as an OPPORTUNITY.
NOTE: If she hadn’t offered to eat, he would have probably eaten something, somewhere.
But because she inserted herself into the need, she was able to ensure that he ate well.
She was able to control the quality of the food that he ate.
She was able to influence him.
He may have been tempted to skip a meal, but she wouldn’t let him.
He may have been presented the opportunity to be fed something by someone else that didn’t care as much.
He may have been used to getting poorly prepared meals, and wasn’t too excited about eating.
He may have forgotten to pack a lunch.
He may have given all his money away and didn’t keep any for himself.
He may have had a vitamin deficiency.
A host of possibilities come into play here.
One thing is certain – he had a need, and she had the wherewithal to meet that need.
And she wasn’t content to let someone do something that she was capable of doing.
NOTE: We have no idea if she was a good cook or not.
We have no idea if she had formal training or was self-taught.
We don’t know if he liked it or not.
All we know is, she had an ability and he had a need.
She wasn’t guilty of keeping her ability to herself.
She didn’t wait to be asked, or manipulated, or coerced.
She not only volunteered, she insisted on meeting a need.
She didn’t wait for her neighbor to do it.
She CONSTRAINED him.
She constrained him to come in and eat.
CONSTRAINED – she was adamant; wouldn’t take no for an answer
This shows me that it wasn’t a token offer; it was of great importance to her
It was an honor to have company in their home.
She was hospitable and caring of the needs of others. (see vs. 13)
II. She was Spiritual – vs. 9 I perceive that this is an holy man
The fact that he was holy didn’t intimidate her.
I’ve met a lot of people that are turned off by holiness; repulsed by it; avoid it.
She appreciated that about Elisha.
She discussed holiness with her husband.
It provoked her to love and good works.
She must have been familiar with holiness for her to discern holiness in Elisha.
She was willing to make some drastic changes in her home to accommodate Elisha.
Her passion for a holy man prompted her to do more for God and the ministry.
III. She was Sensitive
Her heart for ministry caused her to look for more opportunities.
She wasn’t content performing her current ministry; she sought to expand it.
She didn’t just look to improve her existing ministry, she looked to increase her existing ministry.
Many ministries become stagnant or die because of one-dimensional perspective.
She was already cooking for him.
She was already having him come in.
But she wanted to do more.
She looked for ways to improve and expand her existing ministry.
She undertook a work that was of a broader scope than just feeding him a meal.
She had been meeting one need, but now wanted to meet another.
His need for food was important, but his need for a place to rest was also important.
IV. She was Systematic
Notice the planning and foresight she put into this project.
She didn’t just push something out of the way and buy a rollaway cot or a futon.
She didn’t go to Goodwill and buy a sleeping bag.
She took on a project that required a lot of effort.
It involved recruiting helpers. (Twice she said to her husband, “Let us…” vs. 10)
It involved construction.
It involved interior design.
It involved shopping for furniture and linens and lighting.
V. She was Satisfied – vs. 12-13
She had no desire to be paid or recompensed for her service.
She did what she did because it brought her joy and satisfaction; not to be noticed.
She desired no recognition for what she did.
We do not even know her name.
She was the epitome of a selfless servant.
Notice verse 13 – God’s man thought about how much work went into it while he was lying in that bed.
He said “…behold, thou has been careful for us with all this care…”
That was her payment. That was all she wanted.
Her only desire was to take care of a need; solve a problem; fill a void.
That was all the payment she wanted.
VI. She was Self-Controlled – vs. 20-26
Her faith in God kept her calm.
She wasn’t a mean and cranky person.
She was kind and gracious and loving.
She held her son all morning, never complaining.
She held her child in her arms until he died.
She didn’t become hysterical.
She went up – vs. 21 she went to God. Our problems should make us look up!!
She went in. She laid him on the man of God’s bed – a picture of laying her problem at the feet of God.
She went out. She trusted in God and his power.
She shut the door upon him. – she left it with God
Notice verse 23 – It shall be well.
Verse 26 – she replied, “It is well.”
VII. She was Soul-searching – vs. 27, 28
It wasn’t the dead child that vexed her; it was the possibility that it was her fault.
She was concerned about the reason.
She remembered doubting his word years ago. – see verse 16
Many years had transpired since that conversation. (the child was grown – vs. 18)
She remembered being disrespectful and doubtful.
Apparently, it had bothered her for all these years, because she never forgot saying it.
She had never apologized or acknowledged that she said it.
VIII. She was Submissive – vs. 33-36
She didn’t try to tell God how to fix her problem.
She didn’t try to tell Elisha how to help her and her family.
She stayed out of his way and let God deal with it however He chose.
She was probably downstairs preparing a meal for Elisha.
In situations beyond her control, she let God be God.
She didn’t try to tell the man of God how to help her son.
She let him do what he felt needed to be done.
Conclusion: Every one of these characteristics are traits that God highly values. Though we don’t know this woman’s name, we know that in the sight of God, she was great.
Are you great in the sight of God?