Sunday, July 10, 2011

2 Kings 5:20-27

Namaan’s response to the miracle of healing was faith and gratitude. He confessed his faith by declaring the LORD is the only God in heaven and taking earth to build an offer for future sacrifices in his homeland. He expressed his gratitude by offering a gift to Elisha as God’s representative.

Gehazi did not worship or express gratitude. He should have worshipped. After all, he saw a great demonstration of God’s power in healing a terrible disease. He saw a great revelation that should have broadened his understanding of God: God showed that he desired to bring redemption to people of all nations. He should have felt gratitude, for God had provided an ally for Israel in the midst of its closest and most active enemy.

But Gehazi did none of these. Instead of a desire to worship, he desired material gain. He saw an opportunity for money. When Namaan revealed all that he had brought, Gehazi saw more wealth than he would have in a lifetime. Then his master refused it.

Additionally, Gehazi was a racist. He thought that his master spared “this Syrian”. You can kind of hear today’s words “those people”. Gehazi did not like that this non-Hebrew, from an enemy state, should receive healing for free. Jesus encountered these attitudes in his day, as Jews did not want to associate with Gentiles, Samaritans or even Jews who were tax collectors. Remember the Pharisee thanking God that he was not like the tax collector.

So, Gehazi embarked on a path of sin. It started because his heart was in the wrong place. He did not look to God in worship. He did not submit to a sovereign God who had told Moses he would have mercy on whom he would have mercy. So, when presented the opportunity to sin, he did. James 1:13-15 outlines the process for us. Each person is tempted when he is enticed by his own desire.
Gehazi was tempted by his desire for Namaan’s goods and his dislike of Syrians. That desire was conceived in Gehazi’s mind and gave birth to sin. He coveted Namaan’s goods. Gehazi lied to Namaan and said Elisha sent him and he wanted money and clothes for some other prophets. He lied to Elisha about what he had done. And most of all, he worshipped an idol rather than God by wanting money and goods more than he wanted to glorify God.

James said that sin brings forth death. Romans 6:23 says the wages of sin is death. Of course, we know that the sin of Adam brought death into the human race. (Romans 5). And Romans 3:23 tells us all sin and fall short of the glory of God. Gehazi does that in dramatic fashion here.

As punishment, Gehazi received Namaan’s leprosy. God often punishes by using the thing in involved in the sin. Here it is like he said, you wanted what Namaan had, so now you can have his leprosy.

It does not appear to me that Namaan wanted to buy the healing. He was healed before his offer. He wanted to make a gift.

But God wanted to make some things clear. First, he wanted Namaan to know that God healed him. Namaan got that message. Second, he wanted to show that he healed Namaan as a gift of mercy and grace, the same way he offers salvation. We cannot pay for our own salvation. Christ paid for it. The Father extends it to us as a matter of his grace.

God’s servants profane his name when they act in opposition to God’s character and purpose. Gehazi siphoned some of the grace off of this great act of God by taking money. He siphoned off a bit of God’s glory. God does not share his glory.

God’s servants profane his name when they get in the way of God’s work. Gehazi did not like God’s work to go to a Gentile and to go there for free. We do the same sometimes. God brings us people to help. Maybe we are to help by preaching the gospel. Maybe we are to help by offering love and fellowship. Maybe we are to help by sharing what we have.

Not many of these people will be beautiful inside and out. Some will smell bad, be dirty. Some are hurt. Some are ignorant of the gospel. Some are enslaved to sin. If they do not look, smell and act like us, our human nature reacts negatively. But we are not to give in to our human nature. We are to remember our redeemed nature must reflect our Father. We must love those he loves.

Paul reminded us that we were the same before Christ. Not many of us were cool. Some of us thought we were, but were mistaken. (1 Corinthians 1:26 says “not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were off noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise…).

And most of all, we must honor God’s name and nature. We must not profane it.
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