August 23, 2007

The Loan Shark and the Neighbors

2 Kings 4:1-7

“Whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.” Matthew 25:45


When I entered seminary after working for years in banking, I often encountered people who had a less-than-favorable opinion of the banking profession. Bankers are often classified, half-jokingly, as predatory lenders, loan sharks who take advantage of helpless people.

While that evaluation isn’t generally true, our story from 2 Kings supports the negative stereotype. A poor widow is at the mercy of a loan shark who takes advantage of her vulnerability.

God miraculously rescues this helpless victim. But notice that this miracle happens behind closed doors. No one sees it happen except the widow and her sons. Why is it such a secret?

The neighbors had not been there for this desperate family. They had ignored the family’s neediness, and now the widow’s sons were about to be sold into slavery! The neighbors did nothing, and God stepped in. But God also deprived those neighbors of witnessing the miracle of the jars of blessing.

God wants his people to be jars of blessing themselves—looking out for the hungry, bereaved, desperate, and down-and-out. God, who made us in his image, calls us to love the poor as God loves them.

Do you know someone who can benefit from your love and concern today in Jesus’ name?

Lord, help us to follow the command to love our neighbors as ourselves, and to see you in the hungry, thirsty, stranger, sick, or imprisoned. May we do your will. Amen.

About the author — Fred Bultman

Fred Bultman began a “second career” as a pastor in 1997, after a first career in the banking business.  He served as pastor to congregations in the U.S. and Canada. In retirement, he continues to enjoy sharing in the ministry of the churches in and around his home in Fremont, Michigan.

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