John P. Mabrey
This lesson is taken from Second Kings 5:1-14.
Proper attitudes are very important when it comes to dealing with God’s word. Many people are misunderstanding, therefore, rejecting God’s word because of their attitude. Too many have an attitude of wanting to please themselves instead of pleasing God. The account of Naaman the leper will give us insight into the importance of a proper attitude toward the word of God. Naaman was the commander-in-chief over all the military forces of the Syrian king; a very important man in the kings court, yet Naaman had a problem. He was afflicted with the disease of leprosy. Leprosy is a very horrible disease. It is a slowly progressing and obstinate disease characterized by lumps below the skin; scabs and white shining spots appearing to be deeper than the skin. As the disease progresses it literally causes the flesh to fall away from the bone. It can cause the loss of fingers and toes. In Naaman’s house there was an Israelite maiden who served Naaman’s wife. She was no doubt a captive; a spoil of war so to speak. She had been turned into a servant, or a slave. This Israelite maiden told her mistress that there was a prophet in Samaria that could heal Naaman of this dreaded disease. Naaman related this to the king of Syria, and the king of Syria sends Naaman to the king of Israel with a letter. When the king of Israel receives the letter, and reads that he is to cure Naaman—he tears his clothes in alarm and anguish, and exclaims, “Am I God, to be able to kill and to make alive…?” (II Kings 5:7)
Now enters the prophet Elisha into the picture… II Kings 5:8-10 – “And it was so, when Elisha the man of God had heard that the king of Israel had rent his clothes, that he sent to the king, saying, Wherefore has thou rent thy clothes? Let him come now to me, and he shall know there is a prophet in Israel. So Naaman came with his horses and with his chariot, and stood at the door of the house of Elisha. And Elisha sent a messenger unto him, saying, Go and wash in Jordan seven times, and thy flesh shall come again to thee, and thou shalt be clean.” This is wonderful news, right??? BUT, Naaman was not pleased. “But Naaman was wroth, and went away, and said, Behold, I thought, He will surely come out to me, and stand, and call on the name of the Lord his God, and strike his hand over the place, and recover the leper.” (II Kings 5:11) He was expecting more, perhaps some special ceremony, or some healing ritual. Perhaps he expected the prophet Elisha to come out of his house and lay his hands on him to heal this dreadful disease. Notice Naaman’s complaint in verse 12 – “Are not the waters of Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? May I not wash in them, and be clean? So he turned and went away in a rage.”
Now, notice the simple logic of Naaman’s servants in Second Kings 5:13 – “And his servants came near, aand spake unto him, and said, My father, if the prophet had bid thee do some great thing, wouldest thou not have done it? How much rather then, when he saith to thee, Wash, and be clean? Consider that. If the prophet had given you some difficult task to accomplish, wouldn’t you have done it? Then why refuse to do something so easy? This is not a difficult thing he has asked you to do, just do it!!! It was then that Naaman followed the instructions of the prophet Elisha (v. 14) “Then went he down, and dipped himself seven times in Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God: and his flesh came again like unto the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.”
I want us now to consider some of the different attitudes we find in this historical account of Naaman the leper.
First is the “I thought” attitude (v. 11). Naaman expected something different than what the prophet had given him. He thought something else would happen; therefore, he stomped off in anger. He should have just been satisfied with being clean. Is not this the same/exact attitude of many in the world today when they are confronted with God’s word? Many become angry. They have the “I thought” attitude. Well, I thought another answer would be given. Or, I thought it would be done another way. We need to be more concerned with what God thinks than with what we think. Why? Consider Isaiah 55:8-9 – “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Consider Romans 11:33-36. Our thoughts are of no consequence when compared to the thoughts of God.
Next is the “I was expecting more than I was given” attitude. (v. 11) Naaman was expecting some type of special ceremony – he was expecting something different, something grand, and he became angry when he didn’t get it. Many in the church today get mad and leave because they are not getting what they expect. Perhaps, they are expecting something more. Maybe that warm, fuzzy feeling, or perhaps some kind of emotional experience that leaves them feeling weak in the knees; maybe a charismatic experience that takes control of their mind and body. And sometimes it is not a matter of not getting what they expected; sometimes it boils down to them not getting what they want. Naaman thought something greater would happen. But, what greater event could have occurred than his healing? That which was great was always there, but he was blinded to the big picture because he was being led by his own expectations—and he overlooked it. Many today are expecting something greater out of religion; yet, all the while failing to see the greatness ever present before our eyes. The greatness of forgivenesss of sins; the greatness of an eternal home in heaven; the greatness of Christian fellowship one with another. If we are not getting enough out of our religion, then it is clear that we are not putting enough into it. Who’s fault is that? Is it God’s fault? NO! We have only ourselves to blame if we come away empty after a worship service to God. And let me say this: Worship to Almighty God is not about getting, it is about giving (and I am not talking about the monetary contribution). We are to give God our undivided attention in worship to him, and knowing that we have done so should cause us to reap the blessings of knowing that we both worship and serve an awesome God.
Next is the “complain about what is commanded, and would rather do something else” attitude (v. 12). Naaman complained about having to dip in that old dirty Jordan river. He was told exactly what he needed to do to be healed of his horrible disease – and he complained about it. Imagine if you will that you have leprosy. You are told of the cure, and then you complain about it. Maybe you can’t relate to leprosy, but some can relate to cancer. How many of us would flock to the dirtiest river in the world and dip seven times if we knew that was a cure for cancer? Most of us, if we were diagnosed with what is thought to be and incurable disease, would be willing to do anything to be cured!!! Today, many are complaining about the Lord’s cure for sin. Can you imagine someone complaining about escaping eternal death? Many complain about the requirement of baptism, and would rather do something else – like “faith only” perhaps. Many want to be able to pray their way to salvation, but being an alien sinner, how can they? John 9:31 makes it plain that God hears not sinners. Look at Philippians 2:14 – “Do all things without murmurings and disputings:” Are we going to complain about God’s commands? Or, are we going to obey them?
Now, let us to turn the page (so to speak) and notice some more positive attitudes portrayed in this account.
First, let us look at the “caring friend” attitude (v. 13). Naaman’s servants point out to him how ridiculous his attitude is. Naaman’ servants ask, If the prophet would have told you to do some great thing, wouldn’t you have done it? They in turn say, Why reject something so easy? Naaman was blessed to have such caring servants. The world needs more good friends who will try to show others the error of their ways. Many times we get so caught up in a given situation that we cannot see clearly. A good friend will help us to see things as they really are (even if sometimes we don’t want to hear and admit to our error.) Look at James 5:19-20 – “Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him; Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.” Naaman’s servants saved him from certain death. A good friend will help us to see any situation more clearly. Consider Psalm 142:4 – “I looked on my right hand, and beheld, but there was no man that would know me: refuge failed me; no man cared for my soul.” I pray that this will never be said of us.
Finally, let’s look at the attitude that changes things: The “obedient” attitude. When Naaman finally realized how foolish he was, he obeyed Elisha’s command. Folks, we need to put away our pride and our big heads, and obey God. First Samuel 15:22-23 says, “And Samuel said, Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt-offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice and to hearken than the fat of rams.” Luke 6:46 – “And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” And James 2:17 says, “Even so faith, if it hath not works is dead, being alone.” My friends, just sitting in the assembly does not make you a Christian; no more than me sitting in the car port makes me a car. We must do what the Lord says for us to do. Our attitude controls our actions. A proper attitude is a MUST if we are going to be pleasing unto God. What kind of attitude do you have today? Do you think there is a better way of doing things other than what or Saviour commands? Do you want to have your own way? Do you want to do things your own way? If you need a friend to point you in the right direction, let Jesus point the way. He says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man cometh to the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) Won’t you have an obedient attitude today and respond to the Lord’s invitation by obeying the gospel?
*All scripture references are taken from the KJV unless otherwise noted.