For Good or Greed?

“Naaman, commander of the army of the king of Syria, was a great man and in high favor, because by him the Lord had given victory to Syria. He was a mighty man of valor, but he was a leper. The Syrians on one of their raids had carried off a little girl from Israel, and she worked in the service of Naaman’s wife.  She said to her mistress, ‘Would that my lord were with the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy…’ 

“[Namaan’s] servants said to him, ‘My father, it is a great word the prophet has spoken to you; will you not do it? Has he actually said, “Wash, and be clean”?’ So he went down and dipped himself seven times in the Jordan, according to the word of the man of God, and his flesh was restored, and he was clean.

“Then [Namaan] returned to the man of God… and said, ‘Behold, I know that there is no God in all the earth but in Israel; so accept now a present from your servant.’ But [Elisha] said, ‘As the Lord lives, before whom I stand, I will receive none.’ And he urged him to take it, but he refused…  

“When Naaman had gone.., Gehazi, the servant of Elisha, said, ‘I will run after him and get something from him.’ So Gehazi followed Naaman… and said, ‘My master has sent me to say,.. Please give them a talent of silver and two changes of clothing.’ And Naaman said, ‘Be pleased to accept two talents.’ And he put them in [his] house… Elisha said to him,.. ‘Was it a time to accept money and garments, olive orchards and vineyards, sheep and oxen, male servants and female servants?'” 2 Kings 5:1-3,13-16,19b-21,22b-24,26

Servanthood reveals true colors. Taken from her family and homeland, the little girl sought only the good of her Syrian mistress and her important husband. She eagerly convinced her of Elisha’s power to cure. Namaan’s personal servants, likely influenced by this young girl’s faith, boldly persuaded him to set aside his arrogant stubbornness and heed the prophet’s instructions to be cured. The bold confidence and other-centeredness of these unnamed servants turned the course of their master’s life and future.

No so with Gehazi, the named and privileged servant to Elisha. He’d had every advantage of serving in the shadow of this great prophet and witnessed God’s power through him in manifold ways. Yet, stroking self-importance and covetousness, which in turn stoked the embers of greed, he wanted more. Serving his own interests, he was undeterred by Elisha’s utter dependence on the Lord. After Elisha turned down the lucrative reward offered by the newly-healed Namaan, Gehazi sought it for himself. It was deserved, wasn’t it? If his master turned it down, didn’t he have the right to take it? (2 Kings 2:9; 3:14-18; 4:8-17,25-36,42-44)

Wherever we’re placed by God, we’re called to serve Him first, and to work for others as unto Him. How willing are we to stay in the background, open our hands, and serve and use our words for others’ benefit alone? Where has self snuck to the forefront and tickled our greed? After confessing, would we deliberately ask how we might serve for other’s gain and good? (Mark 10:45; Colossians 3:23)

Father, help me embrace every opportunity to serve others in Your name, for their good, and to Your glory. (John 3:30)

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