“Therefore the leprosy of Naaman shall cling to you, and to your descendants forever. So he left his presence leprous, as white as snow.” II Kings 5:27
The stories of the Bible are told for our instruction. This instruction sometimes takes the form of a warning. There is a warning about greed found in the stories of the prophet Elisha. Elisha had a servant whose name was Gehazi. His role was much like that of an assistant. He went with Elisha many places and assisted him in a number of areas.
The life of a prophet was not generally a luxurious one. In fact many of them lived lives that were quite modest, even poor. But God always provided for them. We can imagine that the life of the servant of one of the prophets, even a great prophet like Elisha, would be modest indeed. But Elisha was a prophet of great renown. We can imagine that Gehazi might have longed for a better life. He might have wondered if his master might not have used his power to better their status, at least not to live so humbly.
II Kings reports an incident in which Gehazi saw an opportunity to improve his life. His master Elisha healed a wealthy foreigner named Naaman. Naaman was a leader in a foreign king’s army. He was a man of status and some means. He was also a leper. When he came to Elisha in search of a cure, he offered him many presents for his help. But Elisha cured him of his leprosy without accepting a gift. It was a free gift of God’s benevolent grace.
But Gehazi secretly followed Naaman. He said that his master had, on second thought, asked for a small gift for some others. Naaman was eager to grant this request and Gehazi went home with a substantial gift. But Gehazi had lied. The gift was for himself and without Elisha’s knowledge.
But Elisha did know about Gehazi’s action, through God’s Spirit. When Gehazi arrived home, he was confronted by Elisha. According to Elisha’s word, along with the gift from Naaman, Gehazi would also be the recipient of his leprosy. And Gehazi left the prophet’s presence a leper.
This is a chilling story about greed. We often want more than we have. We find it hard to be content with our possessions. And our greed may cause us to act in ways contrary to what is right. This story reminds us to guard against greed. It may have unforeseen consequences that we will not like.
With Warm Regards,