KEY THOT: Naaman was a Syrian commander of the army who had leprosy. When told by a Israelite servant girl that there was a prophet in Israel who could heal him of his leprosy, he went to the Syrian king to get a letter to go to Israel to see the king of Israel. So when Naaman went to the king of Israel and showed him the letter, the king was outraged and tore his clothes: “Am I God, to kill and to make alive, that this man sends word to me to cure a man of his leprosy? Only consider, and see how he is seeking a quarrel with me” (v.7). So, the king of Israel thought the Syrian king was seeking a provocation to start a war with Israel. But when Elisha heard about the king’s reaction, he asked the king to send Naaman to him: “Let him come to me, that he may know that there is a prophet in Israel” (v.8). And so Naaman was healed of his leprosy after he dipped himself seven times in the Jordan river as Elisha instructed him. His reaction after he was healed was two-fold: (1) a confession of faith in the God of Israel: “Behold, I know that there is no God in all the earth but in Israel” and (2) a gift given out of gratitude: “so accept now a present from your servant” (v.15). Here we see how a miracle of healing has caused Naaman to turn to the God of Israel. He shows his gratitude to God for his work in his life through his gift.
The first lesson here is that healing is an important evidence that the God of Israel is real and He is able to reward those who seek Him. In this case, Naaman sought the God of Israel for healing. He received what he was seeking for. As a result of this, his faith in the God of Israel was established and confirmed. Biblical faith is not irrational but rational and based on evidence demonstrated in nature or in our lives:
- Mark 16:20 And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by accompanying signs.
- Hebrews 2:3-4 It was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard, while God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.
So in evangelism, we need to preach the word of the gospel, but we also need to attest to its reality and power through "accompanying signs". It is almost a contradiction to declare God has the power to cleanse souls from sins but no power to cleanse our bodies of sicknesses and evil spirits. The miracles and gifts of the Spirit are "signs" that the kingdom of God has come: "But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you" (Matthew 12:28).
The second lesson from today's reading is this: Giving is not a donation to meet the need of the needy but is an act of gratitude by the recipient of God’s grace—in this case, God’s healing grace. We don't give only because there is a need in others. We give because there is a need within us--a need to express our gratitude to God for what He has done in our lives. For Naaman, Elisha was a prophet of God, and giving to the prophet is tantamount to expressing his gratitude to the God of Israel who had healed him. For Naaman, his giving was not a contribution to the prophet's ministry but an expression of his gratitude to God for what He has done in his life.
Where and what we should be giving is not the issue here. The real issue in giving is motivation. It's not where or what but why we give that is the main issue. We set aside an amount every month or week to give because it an expression of our gratitude to God for what He has done in our lives. So the greater the gift, the greater the gratitude. In the OT, tithes and offering are acts of worship to God. We are not to worship empty-handed: "None shall appear before me empty-handed" (Exodus 23:15).
Worship is our response of gratitude to God for what He has done in our lives. God's works in us results in our worship to God. And giving is a very important part of this expression of worship, not just songs.
Father, help us to give out of a sense of gratitude for what You have done in our lives, not out of compulsion or theological necessity. Help us turn Your works of grace into acts of worship in our tithes and offering. Amen.