One of my favorite Bible stories is found in 2 Kings 7.
A neighboring empire had attacked Israel and Jerusalem was under siege. The city was surrounded, so nothing could get in or out, and people got very, very hungry. But one night, God caused the besiegers to hear the sound of a great army. They became frightened and fled, abandoning their camp outside the city.
Inside Jerusalem, nobody knew the enemy was gone. But outside the city gates were were four lepers. Like those in the city, they were hungry, and they decided to defect to the enemy. When they arrived, and found the enemy missing, the Bible says, “they went into a tent, ate and drank, carried off silver, gold, and clothing, and went and hid them.” Then on to the next tent—like the Grinch stealing Christmas.
But after awhile, the lepers said to one another, “This isn’t right. This is a day of good news, and we aren’t sharing it with anyone! Come on, let’s go back and tell the people at the palace.”
The story might not be familiar, but this picture is one that Christians should recognize. We are like the lepers: we’ve stumbled on treasure we did nothing to earn. (Similarly, Jesus compares the Kingdom of God to someone who found a treasure hidden in a field.)
We can be happy, like the lepers, and enjoy what we’ve found. What we can’t do is keep it to ourselves. We need to share the good news with people who haven’t heard it yet.
Too often, however, Christians model their behavior after people in other Bible stories. We act like a watchman posted announce the approaching doom (Ezekiel 3:16-21). Certainly there is a role for the prophetic messenger—but how often do we pick that role, instead of being called to it?
It isn’t easy to admit you’re a lucky leper. To admit everything good in your life is a gift God put in your path. But for most of us, it’s more honest.
This is the holiday season: A month of parties and special occasions between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, a time to gather with friends and family in celebration after celebration. Some people you know may be like the miserable victims of Jerusalem’s siege. Can you be like one of the “lucky lepers” and share your good news with them?
Note: this article originally appeared in the Yucca Valley Hi Desert Star on Wednesday, December 2, 2009.