My way or the Highway
You can be healed today just send me a check for $100.00!
Nothing upsets me more than people who claim to be men and women of God, who claim to have the gift of healing but then try and leverage that gift by playing on sick people’s desperation to try and pad their pockets.
You see this on television all too often. With promises of healing, provision, just send me 200 dollars and within a week God will provide you with 2000, because that is how tithing works, in fact they will assure you the more you send the more you will receive. It’s like a pyramid scam without the pyramid.
Let’s be clear does God bless generosity? Yes, does He take care of those who are faithful to give first fruits as taught by the bible? Yes, but the purpose of giving only to receive? Well that is like the opposite of what scripture teaches. That is a lesson in greed and selfishness, two traits that do not mix well with God fearing people.
Please understand, I believe in tithing. I believe to not tithe is to take from God what is His. God blesses us with an expectation that a minimum of a tenth of that blessing is to be used to fund the work of the Kingdom. So yes we encourage and even expect that God’s people would be good stewards with that which God blessed them with, but not so they could be blessed more but because it is the right thing to do, and if so doing results in an increase in blessing because God knows He can trust you to be faithful, praise God but receiving should never be the motivation for giving.
So yes I believe in the giving of tithes and offerings, and I believe that this small church is very generous so rest assured the purpose of this sermon is not to try and get you to give more.
I am talking about this because manipulating people who are desperate for your own financial gain, that is not the ways of God that is the ways of the world.
The ways of God are selfless, the ways of man are selfish.
The ways of God is to leverage love to see people saved. The ways of the world is to leverage whatever you can to gain money and power which will increase you ability to leverage these things again.
Now I don’t get up here and rant too often, at least I hope I don’t, but the reason this infuriates me so much is because the enemy will use the actions of a few corrupt to give the majority a bad name, when in fact the corrupt few are actually conforming to the ways of the world, not being transformed by the renewing of their mind. Clearly they are still thinking like the world.
What got me thinking about this is I was reading a passage in 2 Kings in preparation for this sermon. It is a story I’ve always enjoyed a story of healing, a story of conversion, and a story of failure all wrapped up into one, and to top it off it is a story of one of my favourite prophets Elisha, yeah the one I named my son after.
As I read this story I couldn’t help but see the contrast between Elisha and his servant Gehazi and the contrast between Naaman before he was changed and after.
Before I give you todays question let’s look at the passage.
The king of Aram had great admiration for Naaman, the commander of his army, because through him the Lord had given Aram great victories. But though Naaman was a mighty warrior, he suffered from leprosy. At this time Aramean raiders had invaded the land of Israel, and among their captives was a young girl who had been given to Naaman’s wife as a maid. One day the girl said to her mistress, “I wish my master would go to see the prophet in Samaria. He would heal him of his leprosy.” So Naaman told the king what the young girl from Israel had said. “Go and visit the prophet,” the king of Aram told him. “I will send a letter of introduction for you to take to the king of Israel.” So Naaman started out, carrying as gifts 750 pounds of silver, 150 pounds of gold, and ten sets of clothing. The letter to the king of Israel said: “With this letter I present my servant Naaman. I want you to heal him of his leprosy.” When the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his clothes in dismay and said, “Am I God, that I can give life and take it away? Why is this man asking me to heal someone with leprosy? I can see that he’s just trying to pick a fight with me.” But when Elisha, the man of God, heard that the king of Israel had torn his clothes in dismay, he sent this message to him: “Why are you so upset? Send Naaman to me, and he will learn that there is a true prophet here in Israel.” So Naaman went with his horses and chariots and waited at the door of Elisha’s house. But Elisha sent a messenger out to him with this message: “Go and wash yourself seven times in the Jordan River. Then your skin will be restored, and you will be healed of your leprosy.” But Naaman became angry and stalked away. “I thought he would certainly come out to meet me!” he said. “I expected him to wave his hand over the leprosy and call on the name of the Lord his God and heal me! Aren’t the rivers of Damascus, the Abana and the Pharpar, better than any of the rivers of Israel? Why shouldn’t I wash in them and be healed?” So Naaman turned and went away in a rage. But his officers tried to reason with him and said, “Sir, if the prophet had told you to do something very difficult, wouldn’t you have done it? So you should certainly obey him when he says simply, ‘Go and wash and be cured!’ ” So Naaman went down to the Jordan River and dipped himself seven times, as the man of God had instructed him. And his skin became as healthy as the skin of a young child, and he was healed! Then Naaman and his entire party went back to find the man of God. They stood before him, and Naaman said, “Now I know that there is no God in all the world except in Israel. So please accept a gift from your servant.” But Elisha replied, “As surely as the Lord lives, whom I serve, I will not accept any gifts.” And though Naaman urged him to take the gift, Elisha refused. Then Naaman said, “All right, but please allow me to load two of my mules with earth from this place, and I will take it back home with me. From now on I will never again offer burnt offerings or sacrifices to any other god except the Lord. However, may the Lord pardon me in this one thing: When my master the king goes into the temple of the god Rimmon to worship there and leans on my arm, may the Lord pardon me when I bow, too.” “Go in peace,” Elisha said. So Naaman started home again. But Gehazi, the servant of Elisha, the man of God, said to himself, “My master should not have let this Aramean get away without accepting any of his gifts. As surely as the Lord lives, I will chase after him and get something from him.” So Gehazi set off after Naaman. When Naaman saw Gehazi running after him, he climbed down from his chariot and went to meet him. “Is everything all right?” Naaman asked. “Yes,” Gehazi said, “but my master has sent me to tell you that two young prophets from the hill country of Ephraim have just arrived. He would like 75 pounds of silver and two sets of clothing to give to them.” “By all means, take twice as much silver,” Naaman insisted. He gave him two sets of clothing, tied up the money in two bags, and sent two of his servants to carry the gifts for Gehazi. But when they arrived at the citadel, Gehazi took the gifts from the servants and sent the men back. Then he went and hid the gifts inside the house. When he went in to his master, Elisha asked him, “Where have you been, Gehazi?” “I haven’t been anywhere,” he replied. But Elisha asked him, “Don’t you realize that I was there in spirit when Naaman stepped down from his chariot to meet you? Is this the time to receive money and clothing, olive groves and vineyards, sheep and cattle, and male and female servants? Because you have done this, you and your descendants will suffer from Naaman’s leprosy forever.” When Gehazi left the room, he was covered with leprosy; his skin was white as snow.
The question I want to ask today is...
What is the difference between God’s way and the Worlds way?
What is the difference between God’s way and the Worlds way?
Here is a hint I already mentioned it in my rant
God’s way is selfless; The world’s way is selfish!
God’s way is selfless; The world’s way is selfish!
Me: Have you ever received an email from a Nigerian prince or nelson Mandelas wife who needs your help but in return you will be handsomely rewarded.
Usually the want to import some money of precious stuff into the country but the need someone on this end to help with the transfer and if you will give them your account to transfer the funds into and hold it for them as a thank you they will give you anywhere from 1/4 million to even more.
I hope you haven’t fallen for this scam, but sadly there are more than would admit it that have.
Why is this scam even possible, why would anyone risk giving financial information to a complete stranger?
We: It is part of the fallen human condition. We are born selfish and greedy. And as we grow up we learn to disguise this selfishness and greed but often it is still there as we ask questions like, what’s in it for me? Or why should I risk my life to help someone else?
The truth is unless something happens to change us from the inside out our first priority is usually to ourselves. Yes there are exceptions to the rules but even those who seem less selfish than others usually are just that less selfish, but still selfish.
God: Which is why we need God. God changes our heart and helps us to go from selfish too selfless. Don’t get me wrong we may still struggle with this to some extent but the more like Jesus we become as God transforms us the more selfless we become.
In other words the more we do things God’s way the more we will think about Him and others and the less we will think about ourselves.
This passage is a great reminder of that. Naaman is a Israelite in his leaperous state he is the prime example of the hidden but ever present selfish world view.
He needs to be healed and when he finds out there is a man who can help, with the help of the King he collects a world of wealth. In fact what Naaman would offer Elisha was worth more than the land of Samaria would have been purchased for in the first place.
This was because both Naaman and the King lived in a world where if you wanted something, especially a miracle you had to pay handsomely for it.
This was just one way Naaman personified the fallen selfish nature. When he got to Elisha’s he was upset that Elisha didn’t come to see him but only sent a servant.
Naaman was so filled with pride even though what he had was contagious he felt he deserved to see the healer personally. It was his pride that caused this pride that he deserved better treatment and the treatment was ridiculous because Aram had better rivers than this Jordan.
Do you see the selfish nature shining through?
But after He was healed, he went to pay his medical bill, but like a good Canadian Elisha refused payment, and because this seemed so between the healing and the fact that Elisha wouldn’t take money like any other healer Naaman new there was something different about Elisha’s God and vowed to only worship the God of Israel.
Thus the first non-Isralite conversion was recorded.
Unfortunately there was another player in this story who succum to greed and selfishness and for this he was punished severly.
Gehazi. Where Elisha was selfless, Gahazie was selfish. Even Naaman was changed when asked for some he told Gahazi take double. His generosity was amazing while Gahazi’s selfishness was unmatched.
You: So what’s this mean for you? What do I want you to learn? Be like Elisha and the converted Naaman. Live life God’s way selfless
We: We can’t keep living life the worlds way leveraging whatever we can for our gain. We need to Leverage the love of God so that others may gain what we already have. A relationship with God.