There’s a nice story in the Bible about entitlement and greed. It involves Elisha, the prophet of God, Naaman, a commander in the Aramean army, and Gehazi, the assistant of Elisha.
These three characters’ path crossed when Naaman contracted the highly contagious and incurable leprosy.
It so happened that there was a young girl from Israel in Naaman’s household. The girl was taken captive by a band of Aramean raiders, and was put in Naaman’s house to be a servant to his wife.
The young girl said to her mistress, “There’s a prophet in Samaria who could cure the master of his leprosy.”
Naaman told the king what the Israelite girl had said.
The king of Aram gave permission to Naaman to go to Samaria. He even sent the king of Israel a letter.
The King of Israel
So Naaman left for Israel and took with him talents of silver, shekels of gold, and sets of clothing. He took the letter from the king of Aram to the King of Israel.
The letter said that Naaman was sent by the King of Aram to the King of Israel so that he could cure Naaman of his leprosy.
The king of Israel was shocked. How could he cure the man of his leprosy? Did the King of Aram think that he was God to be able to cure the disease? He was sure that the King of Aram was only looking for a reason to get to war with Israel. And as their practice when in high negative emotion, the king of Israel tore his robes.
When the prophet Elisha heard of what happened to the King of Israel, he asked the king to send Naaman to him.
Bath in the Jordan
Naaman then went to Elisha’s house with his horses and chariots.
Instead of being invited inside the prophet’s house, Naaman was met outside by Elisha’s messenger with a message to go wash himself seven times in the Jordan so that he will be cleansed from leprosy.
Naaman was insulted. He had his own version of how he should have been treated by the prophet.
“I thought that he would come out to see me, stand next to me calling on the name of the Lord, his God, then wave his hand over my body to cure me of this leprosy.”
He was angry and complained, “The rivers of Damascus are better than the Jordan! Why can’t I wash in them and be cleansed?”
The commander’s servant said to him, “Master, if the prophet told you instead to do great and difficult things, would you not do it? He just told you to go, wash and be cleansed!”
He thought about it and decided to do what the prophet told him to do. He went to the Jordan and dipped himself seven times. After he raised his head from the water the seventh time, he saw that he was free from leprosy.
There is No other God except the God of Israel
Naaman and his servants went back to Elisha. This time, he was able to see the prophet face to face. Naaman was profuse in his gratitude. He sincerely admitted to Elisha, “There is no other god except the God of Israel.”
He offered his gifts to Elisha but the prophet refused to accept anything from him.
So as a show of his new-found belief in the God of Israel, he asked to take some earth with him to take back home.
It seems that he wanted to make an altar for the God of Israel and he promised never again to offer burnt offerings to any other god but the God whom Elisha serves.
But there is one thing that he needed forgiveness for. Part of his duties as a commander of the army is to be with his master when the king visits the temple of their god to bow down. As it is, the king needed to lean on his arm and he also had to bow down. He asked forgiveness for this thing which he knew was not pleasing to the God of Israel.
Elisha bade him good bye and to go in peace.
Gehazi Became Greedy
After Naaman left, the servant of Elisha named Gehazi was filled with greed. He thought of all the gifts that Naaman brought and that it was only fair to accept those gifts from an Aramean.
He ran after Naaman who was in his chariot but stopped and got down when he saw the servant of the prophet.
He asked the servant if everything was alright and the servant lied to his teeth.
He made up some stories about two young men who needed a talent of silver and some clothing. Worse, he said that his master sent him to Naaman to ask for those things.
Naaman gave Gehazi what he asked for and even gave more. He asked two servants to carry them for Gehazi.
When they came near the house, Gehazi took the things from the servants and sent them away. He hid them within the house.
When Elisha asked him where he went, he lied again and answered, “I didn’t go anywhere.”
Elisha was disappointed with Gehazi. “When you were with Naaman, my spirit was with you. This is not the time to accept money, or any other gifts! The man’s leprosy will be with you and your descendants forever!”
Gehazi left the presence of his master with his skin infected with leprosy.
Moral of Story
There is a Naaman in most of us. He was desperate for a cure but he wanted it done his way. When it was not delivered in the way he wanted, he was angry. He would have left and refused to do what was required of him.
Had he allowed his pride and his feeling of entitlement to get the better of him, he would never have experienced the healing that is from God.
We must learn a lesson from Naaman. When we need help from God, we should not tell Him how to help us. Obedience is the key.
And let us not forget the lesson Gehazi has taught us. Greed will never amount to anything. One way or the other, it will catch up with us.
But sometimes, it’s not really greed. It is the lack of trust in God. Gehazi found an opportunity to get something for himself so he took advantage of it. If he really knew how God works and trusted God for everything he needed, he would not have ran after Naaman for some clothing and silver. But he placed himself and his desires above his service to God.
And he paid a high price for his mistake. He even dragged his descendants into his punishment.
Star on May 24, 2020:
Mario on May 22, 2020:
True. God knows what we need. We just have to trust Him. God will always make a way.