Free Grace and Expensive Greed


Just as gracious as God is with us, he is also expectant of our righteousness.  God’s grace is not a free pass.  Today Naaman learns how free God’s gifts are, and Gehazi learns that servants of God are not free from standards of conduct…

14 So Naaman went down and dipped himself in the Jordan seven times, as the man of God had told him, and his flesh was restored and became clean like that of a young boy.

15 Then Naaman and all his attendants went back to the man of God. He stood before him and said, “Now I know that there is no God in all the world except in Israel. So please accept a gift from your servant.”

16 The prophet answered, “As surely as the Lord lives, whom I serve, I will not accept a thing.” And even though Naaman urged him, he refused.

17 “If you will not,” said Naaman, “please let me, your servant, be given as much earth as a pair of mules can carry, for your servant will never again make burnt offerings and sacrifices to any other god but the Lord. 18 But may the Lord forgive your servant for this one thing: When my master enters the temple of Rimmon to bow down and he is leaning on my arm and I have to bow there also—when I bow down in the temple of Rimmon, may the Lord forgive your servant for this.”

19 “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.

25 When he went in and stood before his master, Elisha asked him, “Where have you been, Gehazi?”

“Your servant didn’t go anywhere,” Gehazi answered.

26 But Elisha said to him, “Was not my spirit with you when the man got down from his chariot to meet you? Is this the time to take money or to accept clothes—or olive groves and vineyards, or flocks and herds, or male and female slaves? 27 Naaman’s leprosy will cling to you and to your descendants forever.” Then Gehazi went from Elisha’s presence and his skin was leprous—it had become as white as snow.
2Kings 5:14-27

Naaman, who had been healed of leprosy by God through Elisha, was changing his tune toward the Lord.  He had been angry at the way that Elisha told him to be cleansed, and actually had a hissy fit toward God and Elisha.  It’s amazing how our response to God changes when we are blessed with relief or healing or help from the Lord.

Now I know that there is no God in all the world except in Israel, he said.  Naaman wanted to give a gift to Elisha for his healing.  Naaman was much more generous and reverent in response to his healing than prior to his cleansing.  

We ought to recognize that God is God before, during, and after our encounters with him.  God never changes and his faithfulness toward us is consistent, even when we are unfaithful to him.

Elisha wouldn’t accept his gift.  Perhaps Naaman’s heart was still holding to his own power and prestige as a commander of the army and he felt like he need to reimburse the prophet.  God sees our hearts on these matters and the healing of God is not for sale.  The blessing of God and his salvation is not a transaction.  It’s a gift of grace.

And this is where the story twists.  Gehazi, the servant of Elisha, was an eyewitness to all these events, and although Elisha wouldn’t accept a gift, Gehazi’s heart became judgemental and he thought Naaman owed something for his healing.  Elisha had been too easy on Naaman in Gehazi’s eyes.  So he went back and lied to Naaman to get some silver for himself.  Just as God’s grace toward Naaman was free, Gehazi’s greed was about to become expensive…

We should be careful to not take advantage of our service in the kingdom.  Whether in ministry as a vocation or as volunteer, taking advantage of our positions for personal gain is a conflict of interest.  And more importantly, God sees.  Gehazi was infected with the very illness from which Naaman was cured.

Just as gracious as God is with us, he is also expectant of our righteousness.  God’s grace is not a free pass. Spirit speak to our hearts on these matters and bring us into your everlasting way…

Amen.

Marc Kinna

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