21 “Go in peace,” Elisha said. After Naaman had traveled some distance,
20 Gehazi, the servant of Elisha the man of God, said to himself, “My master was too easy on Naaman, this Aramean, by not accepting from him what he brought. As surely as the Lord lives, I will run after him and get something from him.”
21 So Gehazi hurried after Naaman. When Naaman saw him running toward him, he got down from the chariot to meet him. “Is everything all right?” he asked.
22 “Everything is all right,” Gehazi answered. “My master sent me to say, ‘Two young men from the company of the prophets have just come to me from the hill country of Ephraim. Please give them a talent of silver and two sets of clothing.’”
23 “By all means, take two talents,” said Naaman. He urged Gehazi to accept them, and then tied up the two talents of silver in two bags, with two sets of clothing. He gave them to two of his servants, and they carried them ahead of Gehazi.
24 When Gehazi came to the hill, he took the things from the servants and put them away in the house. He sent the men away and they left.” 2 Kings 5:21-24
Naaman has followed through on Elisha’s directions and washed seven times in the Jordan—the result, no leprosy. He returns to Elisha and offers a King’s ransom in presents for the healing, but Elisha turns it down because the healing and restoration are free gifts from God.
Gehazi, however, is a different man from Elisha and he sees in Naaman’s healing an opportunity to make a buck. Gehazi is the servant of one of the greatest prophets in the history of Israel. And yet for all his opportunities to know the gospel and see the power of God at work he misses the point.
Many Christians are just like Gehazi. We grow up in the church and eventually take the gospel for granted. It looses its power to excite and transform and simply becomes another doctrine. The gods of this world get a stranglehold upon us and become our passion and we spend every waking hour pursuing them. We look around at the success of others and wonder why we can’t have a portion of that success. For Gehazi, not to take payment for the miracle of God’s healing Naaman was foolishness.
But there is a more insidious aspect to Gehazi’s view of the situation than a desire to accumulate wealth. He says to himself, “My master was too easy on Naaman, this Aramean.” 2 Kings 5:20
Numerous Christians don’t like the fact that the gospel is free. They think God, the church, and ministers are “too easy” on sin and sinners. They find it difficult to believe that someone can receive grace without paying a price. To them all of God’s gifts must cost us something, either in what we do or through the proof of a transformed life.
Gehazi grew up under the teachings of Elisha, listened to his preaching, watched the miracles God worked through him and yet he missed the very kernel of the gospel, that “salvation” is a free gift of God for all who believe.
There is still a further layer to Gehazi’s sin and that is his prejudice. He says of Naaman, “this Aramean“ as if the very word was poisonous. More than likely Gehazi can’t imagine any reason why Elisha would spend a moment of his time on a Syrian, but since he obviously did help Naaman than the least that could happen for the effort is to get paid for the trouble.
Gehazi chases after Naaman and asks for money and clothing on behalf of Elisha. I find his thinking quite extraordinary, because he rejects the free gift of healing for Naaman as silly and yet has no scruples about lying and taking money from him for himself. Lying for self-gain seems quite all right with Gehazi even though he personally had nothing to do with the healing of Naaman. At the same time he has nothing but derision for Naaman “the Aramean.”
The point I am trying to make is that Naaman, who never knew God in any personal way, becomes a believer from his own personal encounter with Him. Gehazi, even though he is a servant of the prophet Elisha, has never encountered God in any personal way. He either doesn’t understand grace or rejects it as silly and instead worships his idols of greed and desire for wealth.
In the eyes of too many non-Christians the gospel is rejected practically before it is heard because of the poorly conceived practices of so-called Christians. I’ve been noticing lately that people are not rejecting Jesus but are rejecting religion that doesn’t lift up Jesus.
I’ve also noticed that when we speak about the gospel it appeals to people because it is authentic and gracious. I honestly don’t think as many people have a problem with Christianity as we think, but Christianity and religion get jumbled up in their thinking and they throw out the baby with the bath water.
So, what can we do about it? We can try to be consistent in our faith, teaching the love of God for a lost world. We need to remember and make known that grace is free to us but it cost Jesus everything. And we need to reject legalism in all its forms as well as taking the emphasis off of money.
People turn on their televisions and hear pastor after pastor begging for money through their television ministries. Christianity has to be seen to be more than a get rich scheme or a racket for hustling dollars. The gospel means good news and the good news for each of us is:
Jesus loves me, this I know
For the Bible tells me so
When we hurt and the pain of life truly stings, it is the love of God that will see us through. Amazing grace, nothing more and nothing less will lead us to the foot of the cross and it is there, and only there, that we find peace in the time of storms.
For Gehazi the gospel was something to be exploited, for Elisha it was the wonder of God, and for Naaman it was the good news.
* Folks, the persecution of Christians has not stopped. If anything it’s increased. The main stream media doesn’t talk about it much anymore but that doesn’t mean it’s not happening. Pray and stay informed and inform others. Please take the time to read some of their stories at http://thebeggardanced.com/nine-oclock-club/ there is much more on the internet…