In 2 Kings 5 is found the account of Naaman the Syrian. Most of us are familiar with the story of his leprosy and his journey to the prophet of God to be healed. We know of his initial anger and refusal t accept God’s conditions of cleansing, and how his servants pled with him to do this ‘small thing’ and “Wash, and be clean.” We know of his obedience and his desire to repay the man of God. We know of Gehazi’s greed and his subsequent lie and punishment.
But there’s one part of this account that generally goes unnoticed. Look at verse 17. After Elisha refused Naaman’s gift, Naaman makes the following request:
“Then, if not, please let your servant be given two mule loads of earth, for you servant will no longer offer either burnt offering or sacrifice to other gods, but to the Lord.”
Two mule loads of earth. Why in the world would Naaman want two mule loads of dirt? Commentators are far from unanimous in their thinking, but I believe Naaman was doing his best to identify himself with the people of God. Having already committed himself to offering sacrifice to the Lord alone, Naaman desired to be as one with the people of God. The dirt was representative of citizenship, a reminder of his deliverance, and the people of the God who provided it.
But one may ask, “Why would Naaman need dirt to remind him of God? How could he ever forget the great gift given to him by God?” We might cite Deuteronomy 8 in Naaman’s defense. God admonished Israel not to forget the many blessings she had received from His hand (vv 7- 14). Moreover, He warned them that they could even fall so far so as to think they, by their own strength, had conquered and occupied the promised land (v 17).
More than twenty years ago, after Rhonda and I had moved to Arizona, my mom sent me a package filled with red Alabama clay that she had taken from my Grandpa Burleson’s home place here in Marion County. I remember the connection that sack of dirt provided with my family and the state I loved.
Similarly, Christians should take a mule load of dirt with them wherever we go as a reminder of our only enduring citizenship (Phil 3:20) and the God to whom we belong (Titus 2:14). In brief, we need to take a mule load of dirt to the following places:
HOME – What reminders of our heavenly citizenship are seen in our homes? Do our children or grandchildren see us pray? Do they see us reading our Bibles? Do they see our homes as being different than others? Are we holding ourselves to a higher standard of conduct? SCHOOL – Despite its faults, some more obvious than others, we live in a great town. Lest you doubt it, you should know I’ve lived in a lot of places, some large, some like Hamilton, and some in between. This is far and away the best place I’ve ever lived. Despite this, our kids are bombarded with filth and every form of ungodliness every day in our schools. We need to help our kids take a mule load of dirt to school to remind them of what is truly important in life.
WORK – Whether employer or employee, we all need a mule load of dirt at work. As business owners or managers, we need to treat folks equitably and with the spirit of Christ. As employees, we need to live up to our agreement to provide an honest day’s work for a day’s pay. Too many in the workplace seek to do as little as possible and still keep their jobs. Such should never be said of a Christian.
VACATION – I know the beaches in Alabama and the Florida panhandle are white and beautiful, but a mule load of dirt will make them even better! Whether we go to the beach, the mountains, the lake, or some theme park, may we always carry a mule load of dirt with us!
WORSHIP – Unfortunately, many in the church have forgotten the Lord in area of worship. They reject the authority of Scripture, and practice all manner of things foreign to the New Testament. Of such, we might say they have brought a mule load of dirt from the world into the assembly.
A mule load of dirt can work wonders when carried from the right place by the right person!