Summary: Naaman had two problems - one was leprosy. But the other problem was the one that threatened to prevent him from being cleansed. What was his "other" problem, and what "fixed" both of his problems?
I read the true story about a man who had gone to the hardware store for supplies he needed for a minor plumbing repair job. As he was leaving, the owner said, “See you in a little while.” “Why?” asked the customer. “Is there something else I need?” “No. You haven’t forgotten anything,” he replied. “It’s just that every do it yourselfer does a plumbing job they mess things up and require 3 trips to the hardware store.” “Well,” said the man, “I plan to be the exception.”
When he did return an hour later to get a replacement for a part he’d damaged, the owner looked over and held up 2 fingers and said “See you in a little while.” “Well,” the customer later said “they did not see me in a little while. When the predicted 3rd trip became necessary, I went to a different hardware store.” (Reader’s Digest 1/79 p.63)
Pride is an interesting weakness. It causes us to do (or NOT do) all kinds of things with our lives.
A commentator named William Barkley noted: “Pride is the ground in which all other sins grow.” And Barkley got his wisdom on this from Scripture: Proverbs 11:2 explains that “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.” And Proverbs 16:18 tells us “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.” James 4:6 further claims “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
In our text today, we’re introduced to a proud man. Now, you wouldn’t think he was a proud man when you’re 1st introduced to him. I mean, he just seems to be a very successful man. He’s important, he’s skilled, and he’s very well-liked. His name was Naaman.
ILLUS: One man described Naaman this way: He was the commander of a very powerful army. Men took orders from him. Men feared him. Men showed him respect and honor. He had a position that other men only dreamed of having. He was a very powerful man. He was also very popular. He had a good name, he was well respected and trusted even by his king, which was unheard of in those days. Most military leaders were feared by their kings. So, he was powerful, he was popular, and he was also a very accomplished man. He was a man of great valor and had won a great number of battles. Naaman was a man any mother would be proud to call son.” (Bradford Robinson)
Naaman was the ultimate success story. A leader of men! Capable, respected and well-liked. (PAUSE) But, he had a problem - Naaman had come down with leprosy. He was unclean, and unless he could be healed he would die.
Now Romans 15:4 tells us that “What was written in the Old Testament was “written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” So, in other words… there’s a reason why God is telling us this story. There’s something about the healing of Naaman’s leprosy that God wants us to see.
Bible Scholars tell us that Leprosy was used in scripture as a symbol of sin. Just like with sin people couldn’t hide the results of their disease; it devastated their lives; it destroyed them from the inside out; and it separated them from God and other people – they became outcasts. That’s what sin can do to us, and that’s what leprosy was going to do to Naaman.
But God healed Naaman of his leprosy.
And, the story of how God healed Naaman is a powerful lesson in how God uses us to bring healing to the sin-sick souls of the lost.
Now 1st consider that Naaman is faced with the tragic knowledge that his life is ruined, and the FIRST person who gives him HOPE is a slave girl. She wasn’t important; she wasn’t influential; she wasn’t a great theologian - she was just a slave. And yet, it was HER advice that started Naaman looking for God. II Kings 5:3-4 says “She said to her mistress, ‘Would that my lord were with the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy.’ So Naaman went in and told his lord, ‘Thus and so spoke the girl from the land of Israel.’”
She couldn’t do much, but she did what she could. And what she did was give Naaman hope.
ILLUS: She reminds me of the story about a salesman who’d become depressed. He was having a hard time getting people to buy his product, so he went to a man he respected to share his troubles. He said to his friend, “I guess you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.” His friend smiled and said, “Son, your job isn’t to make them drink. Your job is to make them thirsty.”