“So they poured out for the men to eat. And it came to pass, as they were eating of the pottage, that they cried out, and said, O thou man of God, there I death in the pot. And they could not eat thereof. But he said, Then bring meal. And he cast it into the pot; and he said, Pour out for the people, that they may eat. And there was no harm in the pot.” (2 Kings 4:41-42)
Sometimes our first inclination can be a cop-out.
This story begins in verse thirty-eight, where we read that the prophet Elisha had traveled to Gilgal to be with the “sons of the prophets,” a group of preacher-boys, if you will. This was a time when food was scarce, so Elisha suggested they put a pot of boiling water on and look for something growing nearby to make a vegetable stew, of sorts. While they were gathering herbs, gourds, and whatever else they could find, someone, unwittingly, pulled a “wild vine” and threw it in. Unfortunately, this wild vine turned out to be poisonous. We are not told that any of them died; but suddenly, someone among them cried out, “There’s something deadly in this pot!”
If you had been there, what would you have done? I don’t know about you, but my first instinct would have been to simply pitch the whole mess in a field somewhere. This was not Elisha’s remedy, however. Instead, he called for a meal of some kind and added it to the mixture in the pot. Here again, I must admit, I would not have the first in line to take a bite. When Elisha said, “Eat,” I would have replied, “You first!” But verse forty-one makes it clear that the pot that had before held death, now held no harm at all.
In rereading this story, I was reminded that there are situations in life that we would sooner just simply wash our hands of—throw the whole mess away. There are people who appear to be hopeless cases, and it would be far easier just to ease our way out of their lives. Not only that, there are areas in life that the Bible does not spell out as being either right or wrong for us as believers, as both Romans fourteen and 1 Corinthians eight plainly tell us. At times like these, we could very well say, if there’s a question, just avoid it; or in the former case, if it will involve unpleasantness, simply turn your back and walk away.
Well, I suppose that would be one way to look at it (or should I say, not look at it); and certainly, no one could condemn us for playing it safe. Find out what others are doing and follow suit; or never run the risk of being hurt by disappointing people. As I said, Elisha could have just thrown away everything in that pot.
But he didn’t. He took something that could have been harmful—even deadly—and changed it into something healthy and good.
I might give specific examples of how this principle could be applied in our lives, but I am disinclined to do so. I would not want to make the parallel too broad—or too narrow. I am content to allow the Holy Spirit to reveal to you if it applies to anything, or anyone, in your life right now. Why don’t you ask Him?