Summary: Naaman learned the power of obedience and he learned it in very specific ways.
Go, Dip Again!
Scripture: 2 Kings 5:1-14
In an address to the Wisconsin State Agriculture Society in 1859, Abraham Lincoln illustrated the profound effect change can have on us. He told of an Eastern monarch who gave his counselors an assignment to come up with a truth that would apply to all times and all situations. After careful consideration they returned with this sentence. The one universal principal, good for all times and all situations, they said was, “And this too shall pass away.” Abraham Lincoln then suggested that this one statement provides discipline (or correction) in our hour of pride and consolation (or comfort) in our hour of affliction.
Centuries before that monarch gave his counselors that assignment, John made the same point. 1st John, 2:17 tells us that the world passes away, but he who does the will of God, will live forever.
And Centuries before John said those words, a little servant girl who had been taken captive by her enemies, initiated a whole series of events that would teach the commanding officer of a great army, that very same lesson. That the only abiding truth - the only thing that will last forever, is obedience to God’s will.
A husband and wife were discussing the possibility of taking a trip to the Holy Land and the husband said, “Wouldn’t it be fantastic to go to the Holy Land and stand and shout the Ten Commandments from on top of Mount Sinai. To which his wife gently replied, “Wouldn’t it be better if we stayed home and kept them?”
There’s no power in shouting the ten commandments - or anything else for that matter. Power comes from doing what God says.
Naaman learned the power of obedience and he learned it in very specific ways. If we review the story this morning we’ll notice first of all that Naaman learned that obedience requires humility.
Obedience requires absolute submission to the one whom we obey. But Naaman was a great man. He was used to having people submit to his authority. He was the commander of the king’s whole army. And notice, when Naaman arrived to get his cure for leprosy, Elisha didn’t even come out to greet him! So how did Naaman respond? Verse 12 - “So he turned and went off in a rage.”
(Ever do that? - Ad lib...)
Why? Why did Naaman go off in a huff? The answer is back in verse 11. Look back there with me. Verse 11 Naaman is speaking and he says, “I thought....” We can stop right there... And you know, this would be funny if it weren’t so sad. Naaman said, “I thought...” - Naaman heard about a cure for his leprosy and HE decided within himself how that cure would happen. See he says, “I thought: 1. He would come out and meet me.
2. Just wave his hand and heal me
Notice what Naaman was thinking meant no effort on his part - nothing HE had to do - he would just receive the healing. Elisha was the one who should greet him at the door and wave his hand over him.
Now I don’t know about you, but that’s just exactly what I do sometimes. I pray for God to do some great thing in my life and I ask him to take care of it for me, and then I start to figure out how it will all work. And usually I decide what God’s going to do. Ever been there? You know sometimes we pray and ask God for something and then we sit around waiting for him to do it, and all the while he’s waiting for us to do something.
Naaman’s servants said to him, “If the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it?”
Huh? :-) If God tells you to do some great thing, would you not do it? But what if He tells you to wash dishes? Or visit the sick? Or go to the nursing home? Or make a phone call? What if He asks you to do something that NOBODY is ever going to know about this side of heaven.
And even more than that. What if He asks you to do something that’s going to hurt. What if He asks you to do something that’s going to bring YOU pain, but will bring relief to someone else - like forgiving someone. Like forgetting a hurt. Like being nice to someone who isn’t nice to you.
Oh the problems we have when pride gets in the way of our obedience. Look at what Naaman goes through - you see this isn’t so much about his leprosy as it is about his pride.
First, his wife’s servant girl gives him direction to find a cure.