12/14/M – Show and Sparkle, Gold and Glory

2 Kings 5:1-27; Acts 15:36-16:5; Psalms 142:1-3; Proverbs 29:26-27

OT: “Naaman, commander of the army for the king of Aram, was a man important to his master and highly regarded because through him, the Lord had given victory to Aram. The man was a valiant warrior, but he had a skin disease. Aram had gone on raids and brought back from the land of Israel a young girl who served Naaman’s wife. She said to her mistress, “If only my master were with the prophet who is in Samaria, he would cure him of his skin disease.” So Naaman went and told his master what the girl from the land of Israel had said. Therefore, the king of Aram said, “Go, and I will send a letter with you to the king of Israel.” So he went and took with him 750 pounds of silver, 150 pounds of gold, and ten sets of clothing.. So Naaman came with his horses and chariots and stood at the door of Elisha’s house. Then Elisha sent him a messenger, who said, “Go wash seven times in the Jordan and your skin will be restored and you will be clean.” But Naaman got angry and left, saying, “I was telling myself: He will surely come out, stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, and wave his hand over the place and cure the skin disease. Aren’t Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Couldn’t I wash in them and be clean?” So he turned and left in a rage. But his servants approached and said to him, “My father, if the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more should you do it when he only tells you, ‘Wash and be clean’?” So Naaman went down and dipped himself in the Jordan seven times, according to the command of the man of God. Then his skin was restored and became like the skin of a small boy, and he was clean. Then Naaman and his whole company went back to the man of God, stood before him, and declared, “I know there’s no God in the whole world except in Israel. Therefore, please accept a gift from your servant.” But Elisha said, “As the Lord lives, in whose presence I stand, I will not accept it.” Naaman urged him to accept it, but he refused… Gehazi, the attendant of Elisha the man of God, thought, “My master has let this Aramean Naaman off lightly by not accepting from him what he brought. As the Lord lives, I will run after him and get something from him.” So Gehazi pursued Naaman. When Naaman saw someone running after him, he got down from the chariot to meet him and asked, “Is everything all right?” Gehazi said, “It’s all right. My master has sent me to say, ‘I have just now discovered that two young men from the sons of the prophets have come to me from the hill country of Ephraim. Please give them seventy-five pounds of silver and two sets of clothing.’” …Gehazi came and stood by his master. “Where did you go, Gehazi?” Elisha asked him. He replied, “Your servant didn’t go anywhere.” “And my heart didn’t go when the man got down from his chariot to meet you,” Elisha said. “Is this a time to accept silver and clothing, olive orchards and vineyards, flocks and herds, and male and female slaves? Therefore, Naaman’s skin disease will cling to you and your descendants forever.” So Gehazi went out from his presence diseased, resembling snow.” (‭‭2 Kings‬ ‭5:1-5, 9-16, 20-22, 25-27‬ ‭CSB)

The Apostle Paul explained to Timothy that “all Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness.” (‭‭2 Timothy‬ ‭3:16‬ ‭CSB) This story from 2 Kings contains two important lessons: one for the one being ministered to, and the other for the one doing the ministering. Naaman was a high-ranking Syrian who was in desperate need of healing. A slave girl from Israel told him about a prophet from Samaria that could heal him of his leprosy, so he and his large entourage went down to Israel to find the prophet. It appears that Naaman had some preconceived notions of how miracle working happened. He expected a show with a lot of sparkle and finesse… not unlike the shows we see sometimes on Christian TV. When Elisha wouldn’t even honor him with his presence and simply told him to wash in the dirty Jordan River, Naaman was offended. Surely he deserved more attention and care than to be so quickly dismissed to do something he could have just as easily done at home. Were it not for the urging of his servant, Naaman would have missed out on a miraculous healing. Showy performances aren’t required for miracles. All that is required is faith and obedience. When Naaman humbled himself, placed faith in Elisha’s words and obeyed, he was healed. How often do we reject the simple acts of obedience that God is calling us to and opt for a flamboyant display of theatrics instead? How often do we spare no expense to travel to a spectacular revival meeting to get our healing instead of seeking the simple and direct word of the Lord given through the trusted people in our lives? Do we want miracles our way, or do we want the miracle that God has for us? Gehazi, Elisha’s assistant, wasn’t content with ministering to people’s needs by the grace of God. He wanted some gold and glory in return for his efforts. When the opportunity came to make himself rich through ministry, he took it… even lying and deceiving to receive what he desired. What Gehazi thought was a blessing ended up being a curse. In recent days, we have seen a scenario like this play out in the world-wide headlines… a minister, in the midst of ministering to some in the celebrity culture, got caught in the trap of celebrity. He wanted some of Naaman’s treasure, so to speak, and lied and deceived many to get it. What he thought were the blessings of his position ended up bringing the curse of sin. Is it wrong to make a living doing ministry? No. Is it wrong to not be content with the blessings God gives you and help yourself to all the treasures that the world (and the enemy) offers you instead? Yes… very much so. The devil offered Jesus the kingdoms of this world in return for Jesus’ worship. Jesus refused… and because Jesus refused, God the Father made Him ruler of Heaven and Earth, and ended up saving all of us in the process. Trust the Lord. Place your faith in Him and obey His word. Be content with the blessings the Lord provides and keep your hands off the gold and the glory.

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