December 31, 2011 Devotion Sharing (2 Kings 5, Luke 17)

Submitted by Ahmi K. of Gracepoint Berkeley

Naaman was angry because he had a particular idea of how the man of God would heal him, mostly in a dramatic, spectacular way, where Elisha comes out to him, “stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, wave his hand over the spot…” This was probably due to how the pagan prophets worked, and it might also have been because he was such a great and revered warrior that he felt he deserved such a spectacular healing where he will be commemorated forever.  At the same time, he disdained a very basic, unremarkable, humiliating instruction from Elisha. Instruction is an instruction, and, if he wanted to be healed, he ought to have listened. However, the fact that he raged and dismissed it reveals that he might have either thought it was too beneath him to do such unremarkable, humiliating thing, and not be treated extra special from Elisha. He might have expected Elisha to be grateful to have been consulted by such a great man as he. But what he got was to be treated as the leper he was, where Elisha stayed away from him and instructed him to go and wash himself. Naaman was a leper! You’re not supposed to go near a leper, lest you get contaminated yourself. It was ordained in the Hebrew laws for people to stay away from lepers.

But, Naaman forgot the reality of their situation. He was an unclean leper who needed to be isolated and separated from others so as to not infect them. He was a leper, and Elisha was the healer. In this reality, it did not matter that Naaman was a great warrior and Elisha was a poor prophet. Naaman was the needy one and Elisha was the powerful one. In such a situation, Naaman needed to have been humbly accepting of any prescription Elisha gave him.

I find this at work when we do not want to submit to God’s mundane, unremarkable ways to be spiritually well. When confronted with our sinful nature, and we want to be spiritually well, we resist instructions that seem unremarkable and mundane, such as going back to God’s Word daily, to praying, reflecting, being thankful, persevering, pushing through, and obeying basic things. We want to obey remarkable, spectacular things, not humiliating, unremarkable things like daily DT, praying, reflecting, serving in small ways, etc.

The pride in us resists the unremarkable, humbling instructions from God. We are ultimately self-centered people who want to be made much of, and would like God to address our sins in such a way as well. We also want to do anything but to be deflated in our ego. It was clear that Naaman was so humiliated by the fact that he was not made much of by Elisha, that his ego could not take what was a very doable, simple, uncomplicated set of instructions from Elisha.

So often, we forfeit amazing spiritual movement in our own lives because we could not take doable, simple, uncomplicated set of instructions from God. And, of course, there was no miracle in the river Jordan. That was just another muddy river in Palestine. The miracle lay in Naaman’s obedience to whatever God instructed him to do at the moment. The river Jordan, Elisha, Naaman’s servants were all agents of God to work any miracle He chose, if Naaman obeyed.

I’ve experienced this, when people who have had longstanding strongholds submit to the daily practices of going to God’s Word, again and again, denying their pride and ego to be frustrated at the process.

What stood between Naaman and his healing? What stood between him being isolated and diseased for the rest of his life and being healed and rejoining community? It was his pride–his idea of how God ought to treat him, how he ought to made much of. It was not the disease itself, because God had a cure for him already.

To his credit, the one thing he did right was to humble himself and listen to his servants. Therein we find out hope! We are proud creatures, wanting to be made much of by God and his people. But, even in our raging, proud moments, if we pause and listen to His people again, and choose to follow instructions that God lays out, God is gracious and will allow spiritual healing.

26 But Elisha said to him, “Was not my spirit with you when the man got down from his chariot to meet you? Is this the time to take money, or to accept clothes, olive groves, vineyards, flocks, herds, or menservants and maidservants? 27 Naaman’s leprosy will cling to you and to your descendants forever.” Then Gehazi went from Elisha’s presence and he was leprous, as white as snow.

Gehazi was the ultimate tragic figure. He had front row seat of this incredible work of God, and what he chose to take away was how “to get something from [Naaman].” This was the time for him to see the awesome and amazing God, to see that he was on holy ground, that God Himself was worth more than all that money can buy. This was his opportunity to see and know that God Himself was the great reward, for all the worldly things to pale in comparison. This was the time for him to reach another level of personal faith and growth, to taste and see how good God is, that, being in His presence, as poor as they were, was by far greater than any luxuries that Naaman could provide. This was the time for him to take personal conviction and knowledge of God for himself, as Elisha was demonstrating it so clearly when he refused to accept any compensation from Naaman. God laid it out all for him to just step into.

However, he was consumed with getting something from those who got healed. That colored all of his view, and he ultimately was blind and deaf, like a brute beast, who knew or sensed nothing other than personal gain.

When God does something, and He is at work around me, I need to constantly lift my eyes and see what kind of time this is. No matter what I may be, He may be offering me an opportunity to rise and take up the mantle of God’s prophet today.

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