My husband lit his front yard on fire. Twice. I drove a school bus into a hospital overhang. My sons both did backflips from a thirty foot high branch into water. By the no trespassing sign. Whether it’s fear, boredom, or peer pressure, us good people who call ourselves Christians will do all sorts of crazy stuff when we feel justified.
My last post unpacked the story of Naaman’s healing in 2 Kings 5. This post continues with what happens next. It involves another lesser known man, Elisha’s servant Gehazi. 2 Kings 4 reveals Gehazi is one whom Elisha trusts as he travels, heals, and performs miracles on God’s behalf.
Gehazi was there in 2 Kings 5:15-16 when Elisha refused the present Naaman offered for being healed from leprosy.” As the LORD lives, whom I serve, I will accept nothing!” (v16) Elisha made it clear that he served God alone. Perhaps accepting a present from Naaman would bind them in an agreement, obligating one to the other. Good call, as the war in chapter 6 reveals the Arameans were no friends to the people of God.
Gehazi’s response? “My master has let that Aramean Naaman off too lightly by not accepting from him what he offered.” (v.20) He sees a wealthy enemy who should pay. He’s probably responsible for killing many of our people. And Elisha is good with just letting him leave? Now’s my chance to get a little revenge AND get in on that heap of wealth.
So when Naaman starts his journey home, Gehazi chases him and concocts a lie about two prophets needing money and clothing. Naaman gave so much money two servants had to carry it. (v. 23) Too bad Gehazi never got to enjoy any of it. Because Elisha, servant of the LORD, knew the truth, even when Gehazi lied to his face (v 25-26). Gehazi took on the very leprosy that Naaman was just healed from. Ouch.
How often the people of God participate in our own undoing.
If Gehazi could speak, I think there are two things he would tell us:
First, don’t bind yourself to anything outside of God’s will. Pass every decision you make through God’s word. Even when it looks like an answer to prayer. Even when it looks like an amazing, life changing, or very gorgeous opportunity. Make sure you are wise, like Elisha. Elisha didn’t avoid Naaman. He brought him to a place of healing and worship of the One, true God. But, he also didn’t compromise his principles. Binding yourself to ungodly things and people will lead you on a path that will cost you sooner or later.
Second, be careful what you justify. The little tape that goes off in your head, the tantalizing words even loved ones give you to go ahead, you deserve it. If it doesn’t line up with the Word of God, if you have to do something ungodly, like come up with an elaborate lie to get what you want, you’re doing more than forming bad habits. You are justifying sin. Sometimes I justify judging another person because they hurt me, or justify my fear and lack of trust in God’s Provision because I don’t want to lose control. I’m well versed in making excuses. It’s still justifying broken parts of me that need to be healed.
But, Christians are a people of hope. Our God is slow to anger and quick to forgive. He wants us healed. I know.
And because I hate pat answers to the deep struggles of life, I offer up some suggestions that have really helped unearth my personal bondage to fear. They took time. Sorry, no quick fixes. And remember, I’m not perfect either (I am the one who drove a bus into a hospital overhang.)
- Don’t just pray for it all to go away. That’s just treating the symptoms. Be specific. Ask God’s Spirit to reveal the “why” behind your justification. Your goal is for it to be gone now and forever, not just for the time being. Get to the root. That overeating you’re justifying? It might be fueled by anxiety about finances. That unforgiveness you feel you are entitled to? It could be an anger issue stemming from childhood trauma, a way to protect yourself. Trust what comes to mind, and then pray specifically and often, thanking God for the tiniest of victories.
- Remember, this is a spiritual battle for you. As you pray, ask for God’s protection from the distraction and snares of the enemy who is really happy to help you stay stuck. Claim your status as child of God, covered by the blood of Jesus. Even if it feels awkward at first.
- Get a godly, Spirit-filled friend. Confess. Say the words out loud. Take them out of hiding and into the Light of Christ. Making you walk it out in isolation is a tactic of the enemy to make you susceptible.
- Fight back with the word of God. In the past, my immediate reaction was to try and bubble wrap my sons (the tree jumpers) from every little thing. I justified living in fear. After all, isn’t protecting my offspring my #1 job as a mom? Now, when I start to feel the old fears taunting me, I pray “Perfect love casts out fear” and let God’s Spirit do the heavy lifting.
You might not have ever lit your front yard on fire or even gotten behind the wheel of a school bus. However, we’ve all wrestled with what we want vs. what God wants for us. My prayer for you is that you let God unclench your hands from whatever you’re justifying deep down. Gehazi shows we can be so close to the truth, yet justify ourselves away from an abundant life. Take Elisha’s words to heart and serve only the LORD.