Summary: When we humble ourselves, we can draw near to God and be blessed by Him. When we elevate ourselves or self-interest, we are driven from Him and under his discipline.
The Leprosy Exchange
1. Probably every one of us thinks, “I hope I never get to a condition where other people have to take care of me because I am bedfast.”
2. But the future is unknown, and life can take a sudden turn. Take Charles Krauthammer, a political analyst many respect:
Krauthammer became permanently paralyzed after a diving accident while in his first year studying at Harvard Medical School. After spending 14 months recovering in a hospital, and although wheelchair-bound, he returned to medical school, graduating to become a psychiatrist involved in the creation of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders III, and later developing a career as a Pulitzer prize-winning writer. He is a contributing editor to the Weekly Standard and a nightly panelist on Fox News Channel's Special Report with Bret Baier. He was a weekly panelist on PBS news program Inside Washington from 1990 until it ceased production in December 2013.
3. Not everyone has the brains to opportunity to pursue such a career after that kind of an injury. It is pretty rare.
4. About 2800 years ago, a well-respected Syrian general was afflicted with leprosy. His name was Naaman. And, as we shall see, God used his afflicted to do a work of grace in his heart. But he had to be humbled, first.
Main Idea: When we humble ourselves, we can draw near to God and be blessed by Him. When we elevate ourselves or self-interest, we are driven from Him and under his discipline.
I. Naaman: A Great Man Who HUMBLED Himself (1-15)
A. Naaman and his AFFLICTION (1-2)
• The Hebrew word is a broad term for a variety of skin conditions
B. Naaman seeks to be CURED (3-12)
About 2.5 million dollars today.
1. Humiliating: seeking help from a country he had probably helped attack
2. He was at the mercy of foreigners
3. He was given the run around
Aaron T. Lockhart writes, “Naaman felt that he had to travel all this way only to be redirected by a fearful king, snubbed by a silent prophet (whom Naaman no doubt regarded as a lesser man than he), and instructed by a servant to bathe in a dirty river.”
C. Naaman cured PHYSICALLY and spiritually (13-15)
D. Naaman wants to live as an obedient BELIEVER in a pagan environment (16-19a)
Andrew Drury points out that in today’s text, everyone is out of their comfort zones.
• A slave girl extracted from Israel and now a servant in Syria.
• Elisha, leading a counter-cultural movement back toward Yahweh.
• Naaman, a Syrian genral who is forced to visit Israel to be killed
• The king in Israel who is afraid of more incursions by the king of Syria.
But sometimes God shakes things up and takes us out of our comfort zone, and it is only then we will listen to him.
Anne LaMott: “There's a lovely Hasidic story of a rabbi who always told his people that if they studied the Torah, it would put Scripture on their hearts. One of them asked, "Why on our hearts, and not in them?" The rabbi answered, "Only God can put Scripture inside. But reading sacred text can put it on your heart, and then when your hearts break, the holy words will fall inside.”
When we humble ourselves, we can draw near to God and be blessed by Him. When we elevate ourselves or self-interest, we are driven from Him and under his discipline.
II. Gehazi, the Lowly Man Who Tried to EXALT Himself (19b-27)
A. Gehazi saw an OPPORTUNITY to take advantage of grateful Naaman.
B. Gehazi turned away from the CONVICTIONS of his master.
C. Gehazi suffered the CONSEQUENCES of his corrupt behavior.
D. Gehazi must now live a life of ISOLATION.
• In a sense, he is a Judas-like figure.
III. The LESSON is Applicable Today.
A. Many Christians become BORED with the straight and narrow.
1. Have you ever wondered why so many Christians are fad driven?
2. From the next “big thing” to another.
3. Faithfulness to the same things is not a fad — Bible, prayer, witnessing
4. Gehazi blew it. But his sin did not just surface out of nowhere. It was not merely impulsive. He coveted land and olive trees… and, when the opportunity came…being a faithful disciple of Elisha was not enough
5. We first neglect our walk with Lord, then we begin to nurture discontent…
2 Corinthians 11:3, “ But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.”
• I’ve observed many Christians become bored with sincere/pure devotion.
B. Some Christians essentially LOSE their credibility and testimony.
At the community college I attended before I went to Moody, I met a Christian prof who had been a pastor…. MCCF … He could not be very bold about his faith…