Perhaps you remember yesterday’s devotional about Naaman being healed of leprosy. He was ecstatic to be free of that awful disease. Everything he had gone through and all that had brought him from Syria to Israel to Elisha’s doorstep had culminated in his professing his faith in The One True God, the God of Israel. That new love and commitment inspired him to respond. The best way he knew how was to give money to Elisha in order to pay him for being a prophet. Verses 15-18 read,
“Then he returned to the man of God, he and all his company, and he came and stood before him. And he said, “Behold, I know that there is no God in all the earth but in Israel; so accept now a present from your servant.” 16 But he said, “As the Lord lives, before whom I stand, I will receive none.” And he urged him to take it, but he refused. 17 Then Naaman said, “If not, please let there be given to your servant two mule loads of earth, for from now on your servant will not offer burnt offering or sacrifice to any god but the Lord. 18 In this matter may the Lord pardon your servant: when my master goes into the house of Rimmon to worship there, leaning on my arm, and I bow myself in the house of Rimmon, when I bow myself in the house of Rimmon, the Lord pardon your servant in this matter.”
Naaman was so grateful he wanted to pay Elisha but Elisha refused. He would not take money for what God had done. Taking money from Naaman would have been like Naaman buying his healing. It would sullied God’s gift to Naaman by making it a transaction. Elisha understood that when a faithful person gave to God his firstfruits, that God would give that to Him for his provision. He had no need for more. The faithful take care of the faithful in service to God. Naaman was not offering the money as a tithe to the LORD, he was offering to purchase the healing. So Elisha refused it and kept the act the gift from God it was meant to be.
Jesus explained it to the disciples as he sent them out to spread the Gospel in Matthew 10:7-11,
“And proclaim as you go, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ 8 Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying; give without pay. 9 Acquire no gold or silver or copper for your belts, 10 no bag for your journey, or two tunics or sandals or a staff, for the laborer deserves his food. 11 And whatever town or village you enter, find out who is worthy in it and stay there until you depart.”
Love for money and possessions can eat their way into the soul, especially if one’s faith is weakened or if a person is less mature in his walk with the LORD. The desire for money is a sign that he doesn’t trust God to be God. That desire is the basis for all kinds of sin. Paul said it like this in 1 Timothy 6:6-12,
“But godliness with contentment is great gain, 7 for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. 8 But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. 9 But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.
11 But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. 12 Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.”
We have to be deliberate about pursuing the kingdom of God. We have to be intentional about seeking the fruit of the Spirit and staying free from the pursuit of the material. Elisha’s servant Gehazi heard Naaman’s offer of money and he wanted it. Elisha only wanted to glorify God and sent Naaman home with his gift of peace with God. Verses 19-24 describe what happened,
“He said to him, “Go in peace.”
But when Naaman had gone from him a short distance, 20 Gehazi, the servant of Elisha the man of God, said, “See, my master has spared this Naaman the Syrian, in not accepting from his hand what he brought. As the Lord lives, I will run after him and get something from him.” 21 So Gehazi followed Naaman. And when Naaman saw someone running after him, he got down from the chariot to meet him and said, “Is all well?” 22 And he said, “All is well. My master has sent me to say, ‘There have just now come to me from the hill country of Ephraim two young men of the sons of the prophets. Please give them a talent of silver and two changes of clothing.’” 23 And Naaman said, “Be pleased to accept two talents.” And he urged him and tied up two talents of silver in two bags, with two changes of clothing, and laid them on two of his servants. And they carried them before Gehazi. 24 And when he came to the hill, he took them from their hand and put them in the house, and he sent the men away, and they departed.”
Gehazi chased Naaman down and told him an elaborate lie to get money from him. Naaman was happy to comply and give the man what he asked for. As Gehazi returned home, I wonder what went through his mind. He had to come up with more lies to explain his whereabouts. He probably imagined how he would spend his ill-gotten gains. I seriously wonder how he thought he might spend that money. He was Elisha’s servant, with him most of the day, every day. He wasn’t going to get a day off and meet his friends at the mall. He wasn’t going to be able to buy himself a new donkey, an iPhone 6s, or anything else without giving away his secret sin. He certainly was not thinking about how awesome God is and how God knew his sin and how close Elisha was to The Lord. He wasn’t thinking that God had already told Elisha what he had done. You cannot lie to The Holy Spirit. Verses 25-27 read,
“He went in and stood before his master, and Elisha said to him, “Where have you been, Gehazi?” And he said, “Your servant went nowhere.”26 But he said to him, “Did not my heart go when the man turned from his chariot to meet you? Was it a time to accept money and garments, olive orchards and vineyards, sheep and oxen, male servants and female servants? 27 Therefore the leprosy of Naaman shall cling to you and to your descendants forever.” So he went out from his presence a leper, like snow.”
Gehazi took payment for Naaman’s healing, so The Lord gave Gehazi Naaman’s leprosy. Gehazi disregarded God’s will over his own. He cheapened the beautiful gift of salvation by making it a business deal. Gehazi gained two talents of silver and four changes of clothing, he was rich. But he lost honor, health, and position.
Gehazi was with Elisha every day year after year. He heard God’s word spoken. He saw the greatness of God manifested repeatedly. He saw a hundred men fed on just a small amount of food, he saw a boy raised from the dead, poisoned stew purified, toxic water cleansed, and dry land flood all at God’s word. But the desire for money slipped in and took over. He chased Naaman’s riches instead of God’s glory. He got the money he sought and lost the kingdom of Heaven. If the love of money could infect his heart in can infect anyone’s heart.
Believer, be careful, be diligent. Fight the good fight and seek the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. Let God be God for you. He is El Shaddai, All Sufficient LORD.