I loved the story of Naaman in Chapter 5. He suffered from leprosy, but when he heard about the prophet in Israel, he loaded up his cart with a letter from his king, 750 pounds of silver, 150 pounds of gold, and ten sets of clothing. Naaman planned on buying his healing. He was relying on money to make him well.
When he got to Elisha’s house, Elisha sent this message, “Go wash in the Jordan river seven times.” Naaman became furious. Being a commander of his king’s army, he was used to giving the orders, not obeying them. When Naaman arrived on the scene, men stood at attention, and here was this Elisha fellow who didn’t even bother to come out of his house. And furthermore, he had the audacity to tell Naaman to go wash himself. I can hear Naaman now, “Who is this guy? He sure has a lot of nerve, telling me to wash in the Jordan River! I can wash in river water at home!”
Fortunately for Naaman, he listened to the wise words of his servant and obeyed Elisha’s instructions, which required him to humble himself and wash in the river. Through his obedience, God granted him healing.
Once healed, he returned to Elisha and offered him gifts. Elisha refused to accept anything from Naaman. The healing did not come from Elisha, but from God. God’s gifts are not something that can be bought and sold. They are offered freely, and as we humbly obey God’s word, we freely receive his gifts of grace.
Elisha’s servant, Gehazi, allowed greed to take root in his heart. He lied to Naaman to receive monetary gain, but in turn reaped a grave consequence. He thought he could gain from God’s grace to someone else. This was a great sin and he spent the rest of his days suffering from leprosy, the very thing God had freed Naaman from.
Be not mistaken, God is not mocked! His gifts are not for sale, and woe to the one who would try to market what God deems free.
There is one more aspect of this story that I would like to point out. Naaman thought that Elisha would come out and wave his hand over him and he would be healed. He expected Elisha to perform some sort of magic voodoo. But instead, God chose to heal Naaman in a totally unexpected way through the simple act of washing in a river. God’s miracles often come in unexpected ways. Consider a burning bush, a parted sea, manna from the sky, and a baby in a manger. If you are praying for a miracle, keep your eyes wide open for God’s surprising answer.
Why is it that man often finds the need to add regulations to salvation? A group of Judean men arrived on the scene telling the Gentiles that they had to be circumcised before they could be accepted into fellowship. God had already shown his acceptance of the Gentiles by pouring out his Holy Spirit on them even though they were not circumcised. Peter boldly spoke up and proclaimed that salvation is not a matter of circumcision, but instead it’s a matter of the heart. There is no need to add ritual requirements to our lives in an effort to gain salvation because it can’t be gained through anything more than faith.
Jesus came and died for us, and his gift of salvation is free to all who believe. He doesn’t require us to clean up our acts first. He simply says come. Most Christians can recite John 3:16 that tells us “… that whoever believes in him will not perish, but have eternal life.” All that God requires for salvation is that men accept it.
The Psalms give us great examples of things we can pray for ourselves, and this one is no exception. Look at the things David asked of God. He prayed for God’s help (vs. 1). He asked for God to accept his prayer (vs. 2), control his words (vs. 3), and keep him from evil (vs. 4). He also asked God to correct him when needed and give him the grace to accept the correction (vs. 5). He then moved on to pray against the wicked (vs. 6 –7) and ended with a cry for God’s protection (vs. 8-10). We too can ask God for all these things.