At the height of his heavyweight boxing career reigning world champion Mohammed Ali declared that he was “the greatest” as humility was never his strong suit. Once a flight attendant repeatedly told him to put on his seat belt as the plane was ready to take off. He replied with all seriousness, "I’m superman and superman don’t need no seatbelt!" Without hesitation the 4’ 8” attendant replied, “And Superman don’t need no airplane, now sit down and buckle up!” Where is the Lord asking you to ‘buckle up’ and humble yourself in total reliance upon Him and not yourself? How does God use humility (not hum-iliation) as one of His sharpest chisels to make us more like Jesus?
LAYING PRIDE TO THE SIDE (read 2 Kings 5:1-17)
In pride any guy can be a male, but only with humility can God make you a man! Most males are like Naaman who modeled living independently from God with confidence in self instead of learning to rely on and trust in the Lord as a man. From the world’s perspective, Naaman had a lot to be proud of. He was “captain of the Syrian army” (5 star general) making him Aram’s (king of Syria) Joint Chief of Staff; a “great man” having orchestrated strategic military defeats; “highly respected” by giving orders not receiving them; “the Lord had given him victory” even as an enemy of Israel; and he was a ‘Maximus Decimus’ Russell Crowe gladiator stud “valiant warrior”. To what position, possession, credential, accomplishment, award, ability, association, experience, relationship, skill or reputation do you often pridefully cling for your value? How has the Lord chiseled away at these in order to make you more like Jesus Who laid all of these aside to be your Savior and Lord? (Phil 2:5-8)
What specific chisels did the Lord use to carve away Naaman’s pride?
(:15) How did humility lead to Naaman’s salvation? Why is pride the #1 reason men do not come to or grow in Christ? Name a few others from the Bible whom God had to humble prior to salvation. (Job 46:1-6; Matt 16:21-26; Dan 4:30-37; Act 9:1-3; John 3:1-16) How did Naaman learn that his healing and salvation could not be bought with gifts but was given by God’s grace alone? [Eph 2:1-10; John 3:16; Rom 6:23.14,000 ounces of silver ($350k) + 2400 ounces of gold ($49k)] How did Jesus use Naaman’s life as an example to challenge the hard hearts of religious folks in John 3:3-8 and Matthew 18:3?
Which of these very sharp chisels do you sense God is using presently to humble you making you more like Jesus?
HEROES AND ZEROES
Let’s discover other powerful truths from the characters that God includes in this narrative.
(:2) Little Servant Girl If you were this young servant girl how would you feel towards your master (Naaman) who was in charge of the army that killed your parents and had taken you captive as a slave? But what was this girl’s primary concern? Why do you think she still wanted to point her master to the living God through the prophet Elisha? Are you concerned about the salvation of your ‘enemies’ or those who have hurt you? What does this tell you about the sovereign grace of God as He pursues the salvation of men He puts in your life (1Tim 2:1-6; John 3:16-17; 2Pet 3:9)? How must the Lord chisel your heart to increase your desire to see others come to Christ? Where has God placed you (work, family, neighbors) and how are you letting Him use you as a sanctified chisel to introduce others to the living God (:15) in Christ? How would you describe this little girl’s childlike faith (Matt 18:1-6; Mark 10:13-16; John 4:28-30).
(:5-7) King Joram of Israel. This king of Israel represented the Lord’s people whom He had showered with covenant grace and faithfulness for 1200 years since Abraham. You would expect that in response to the Lord’s great compassion over the centuries that king Joram would want to help a fellow king at least know about the true and living God. But how did he respond instead? What was he most concerned about? In what ways did king Aram differ from the little servant girl? Why do you think God put both next to each other in the same historical account? How did Aram squander his opportunity to trust the Lord, point a fellow sinner to His grace and build peace among nations? Is there any evidence of prayer, care or desire to share God’s grace? How was he blinded by unbelief, fear and self-centeredness? Are you making the most of the opportunities the Lord gives you to help others know about God’s goodness, grace and glory?
(:17-27) Gehazi (Elisha’s assistant) means ‘valley of great vision’ i.e. one who has a vision of and understands God. He had personally seen many miracles by Elisha’s predecessor, Elijah, and now had a front row seat to the powerful teaching and miracles of Elisha including God’s amazing grace in the healing of Naaman. What likely entered Gehazi’s heart when Elisha would not take payment for the miracle healing Naaman’s leprosy? What was his motive (20)? What sins did he commit (22, 25) as a result? What consequences did he suffer (26-27)? Where might you have greed, deceit, envy or lack of faith in your heart? What sober “Gehazi” warnings does God give us in 1 Corinth-ians 9:23-27, 10:12-13 and Colossians 3:5?