Four Lessons From The Story of Naaman
The Faithful and The Unfaithful
Gehazi was the servant of Elisha. He had seen Elisha do incredible deeds in the name of the Lord.
He has witnessed the miracle of oil when Elisha blessed a poor widow. He witnessed the miracle that his master worked in granting a child to an older woman who had shown him hospitality, long after she had given up hope of a child. Later, when the son died, Gehazi was instructed by Elisha to revive him by placing Elisha’s staff on the boy. Gehazi failed and it was only Elisha’s intervention that brought the boy back to life.
After seeing the power of Elisha, Gehazi was given another job. He was to greet Naaman at the door of Elisha’s house and give this powerful warrior the message that Elisha had sent.
To be cured of leprosy, Naaman must dip himself in the Jordan River seven times.
I wonder what Gehazi was feeling. Was he fearful? Did he worry that Naaman would be angry at the message and blame the messenger? Did Gehazi hate this enemy General who had caused so much harm to the people of Israel? Was he secretly hopeful that Naaman would leave Elisha’s presence without finding a cure? Was Gehazi hoping that Elisha would do his patriotic duty and strike Naaman dead, as such a ruthless warrior deserved?
Gehazi’s worst fears were not realized. He was not harmed by Naaman, but neither was he pleased with Elisha’s treatment of this General of Aram.
Naaman reluctantly accepted the advice of his servants, and did what Elisha had told him to do. He dipped himself in the Jordan seven times and received the healing that he sought.
When Elisha refused to accept the material compensation that Naaman offered, Gehazi was not happy. This enemy of Israel got off way too easy.
Don’t you feel a bit of sympathy for Gehazi? Why would Elisha give grace to a self-proclaimed enemy of Israel? Why give healing to one who makes border raids into Israel, takes captives, and demands tribute? Why would Elisha take no compensation? The gifts from Naaman could have been used to bless those who have been harmed by Naaman’s raids. Some of that heavy tribute could have been recovered. Am I the only person for whom that sounds like a good idea? Doesn’t that seem like justice to you?
Would Elisha last long in one of our pulpits? Can you imagine one of our ministers showing grace to an enemy of the church? Even more, how long would a minister last if he/she turned down a large financial donation? Do you want your minister saying “no” to a substantial gift to the church?
Gehazi sought justice on his own. He invented a lie and pursued Naaman who was returning to his own country. The lie he told was that Elisha needed some of the wealth offered by Naaman. The general gratefully turned it over. Gehazi took it home and hid it in Elisha’s garage.
Elisha confronted his servant. Gehazi tried to lie his way out of his deceit. But there was no deceiving Elisha. The leprosy taken from Naaman would rest on Gehazi! It was a harsh punishment, apparently without any grace whatsoever.
So it is with all of us who wish to be servants of God, who want to claim to be servants of God. Much is expected from us. Let those of us who are disciples of Jesus be warned. Let those who have ears to hear, listen.
Mark William Ennis had his first book, “The Circle of Seven: When His Servants Are Weak,” recently published by Deep River Books. An ordained minister of the Reformed Church in America for 35 years, Mark served as a chaplain at the opening of the National 911 Memorial Museum in New York City, ministering to survivors, first responders and their families.