Message notes by Pastor Ewings on a sermon based on 2 Kings 5:14-27
There are really only two ways in life that we learn a lesson: our mental faculties either acknowledge and accept what is beneficial or they recognize and reject what is harmful. We learn to imitate what is good and to avoid what is bad. As we seek to grow in our faith today, we learn a lesson from a couple of uncanny characters. The Bible introduces us to Naaman, a heathen from the pagan nation of Aram, who had leprosy. We also meet up with “the servant of Elisha, the man of God” named Gehazi who contracted leprosy. Through the lives of these two leprous men, the Lord seeks to teach us a lesson about gratitude and greed.
A few words about leprosy are in order. This disease is caused by bacteria which attack peripheral nerves in the skin and in the upper respiratory tract. It kills the body from the inside out. If left untreated, leprosy disfigures the skin as it slowly eats away at living flesh. If left untreated for a long time, leprosy can damage the body so badly that parts begin to fall off—like finger tips and the end of the nose and the tops of the ears and the ends of the toes.
A few words are in order about Naaman, as well. This man was the general of the army, but not Israel’s army. Naaman was from Aram, a country about 50 miles north east of Israel. Israel and Aram were not nice neighbors. They regularly attacked each other and took home captives. Naaman had acquired a young Israelite girl as a maid for his wife. They must have been good to the young girl because when Naaman got leprosy, the girl told Naaman’s wife about a prophet in Israel who could cure him. In the verses which precede our reading, the prophet Elisha had prescribed a strange treatment for the general: just wash in the Jordan river seven times, and you’ll be cleansed. The arrogant warrior scoffed at such a ridiculous request: “Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than any of the waters of Israel? Couldn’t I wash in them and be cleansed?” he cried. And yet this man, after displaying both physical and spiritual leprosy, did what the prophet had said and was immediately cleansed. His life was forever changed.
It is then that another man steps onto the scene: Gehazi. After hearing of Naaman’s generous offer which Elisha turned down, Gehazi was indignant. Elisha had no wealth, only God’s Word, and did not want to do anything that would cause Naaman to think that he could buy the blessing of God. Ah, but Gehazi, a servant of the Church, had other ideas. He knew how to make greed look good. While Naaman had been healed of his leprosy, the real leprosy in Gehazi’s heart was just beginning to show itself. Leprosy of the soul kills just as surely as leprosy fn the body.
Paul writes, “The love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” This is precisely what happened to Gehazi and what the Lord allows to happen to many who are not content.
May we as God’s people learn an important lesson from each of these lepers. God’s grace is completely free; there is nothing we can do to earn it or buy it. He has made our sins as white as snow! In thanksgiving, let us live gratefully and generously as we share the free Gospel with many.
Lesson 1: 2 Kings 5:14-27
Lesson 2: Hebrews 3:1-6
Gospel: Mark 10:17-27