Summary: Third of a series on Elisha. Naaman's story of cleansing has incredible parallels for what it means to become a Christian. There is no path to God that does not involve humility.
=> LEADERS AND FLAWS
After a week with a presidential primary debate, I imagine we are all thinking about how every leader has flaws and defects. What did they say? How did they say it? How did they seem while they said it? Were they calm and confident? Were they timid?
Who was the stronger figure?
There is no perfect leader among us.
None of us ever gets to the point where we don’t still have to clarify, to reach out, or to apologize.
In fact, many leaders deal not only with imperfections of character, but also imperfections of their body that prevent them from being all that they wish they could be some of the time.
SLIDE: Paul, Lincoln, Churchill
The Apostle Paul speaks of his “thorn in the flesh,” and how urgently he asked God to remove it.
Abraham Lincoln, despite our knowledge of him as an incredible leader, and one of our most important presidents, he suffered deeply with depression and anxiety.
There are more than two documented accounts where with all the pressures he was dealing with, he had public nervous breakdowns.
Winston Churchill became one of the greatest leaders and speakers of the 20th century, but he spent years of his life receiving therapy to help him with his stuttering. In fact, he spoke with a lisp, and had a hard time pronouncing the letter “s.”
He often would write speeches in ways that allowed him to avoid words that ended certain ways, selecting his words carefully.
To some degree, this great attention to detail probably contributed to just how excellent of a speaker he was. His slow, deliberate pauses and cadence made him especially memorable, as did the great thought he put into what he said.
We could give a long list of people who had some sort of flaw or challenge
You wonder if we scrutinized all the little aspects of many leaders over the centuries the way we do now, whether we might have missed out on some wonderful pieces of human history.
SLIDE: Naaman - 2 Kgs 5:1-4
=> NAAMAN’S STRUGGLE
You wonder how a person like Naaman would do with our 24-hour news cycle, and hyper-critical coverage.
Naaman, commander of the army of the king of Syria, was a great man with his master and in high favor, because by him the Lord had given victory to Syria. He was a mighty man of valor, but he was a leper. 2 Now the Syrians on one of their raids had carried off a little girl from the land of Israel, and she worked in the service of Naaman's wife. 3 She said to her mistress, “Would that my lord were with the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy.” 4 So Naaman went in and told his lord, “Thus and so spoke the girl from the land of Israel.”
Naaman would have been an impressive person by any account.
But no matter how many victories he had, no matter how many people had to follow his every command, there was still something about himself that was incomplete.
There aren’t many words to use for skin conditions in Hebrew, and so “leprosy” is the one we utilize most often. There are different kinds of conditions.
Most likely, this was a type of psoriasis. Uncomfortable, discolored, but not contagious or deadly.
SLIDE: Servant Girl
=> SERVANT GIRL’S HEART
The story of Naaman has an unsung hero.
A young girl who was his wife’s servant.
At some point in a raid against the Israelites, she had been captured, and forced into slavery.
It is unknown how she was treated upon her capture; only that at this point, she wasn’t in control of where she lived.
But somehow she managed not only to find contentment, and hang on to her faith.
Here is a girl who loved her enemies.
“If only Naaman my master would go to the prophet in Samaria! He would cure him.”
I wonder what the conversation was like between Naaman and the king.
“I have this servant girl. This is what she said. If I go to this guy, he might heal me. I know it’s not likely, and may just be a waste of time, but if there’s any chance…any chance I can be rid of this disease, I’ll do anything.”
=> THE WORLD’S VIEW OF SUCCESS
Naaman went with the King’s blessing, and in a fashion that I expect any diplomat would prefer.
SLIDE: Chariot of Syria
He had a letter from his king, written to Israel’s King, with a big fat royal signature on it.
He had 750 Lbs of silver, 150 Lbs of gold, and 10 full changes of clothing, which was really expensive for that time.