II Kings 5:1, Deuteronomy 32:15-20, Luke 7:9
I Kings 5:1
Now Naaman was commander of the army of the king of Aram. He was a great man in the sight of his master and highly regarded, because through him the Lord had given victory to Aram. He was a valiant soldier, but he had leprosy.
They abandoned the God who made them and rejected the Rock their Savior. They made him jealous with their foreign gods and angered him with their detestable idols. They sacrificed to false gods, which are not God—gods they had not known, gods that recently appeared, gods your ancestors did not fear. You deserted the Rock, who fathered you; you forgot the God who gave you birth. The Lord saw this and rejected them because he was angered by his sons and daughters. “I will hide my face from them,” he said, “and see what their end will be; for they are a perverse generation, children who are unfaithful.
I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel.
Growing up, I learned quickly that my parents knew a lot more than I did. If my parents told me to do something, I learned early on that the word “but” isn’t allowed. The word “but” is talking back.
“Shea, I need you to take care of the animals, watch your brother, mow the fields, run this to the bank, etc.” The only good answer was yes. Sure, I made plenty of attempts to try other answers but none worked. The great privilege and blessing God gave me to be their son and to have a home means I have a duty; I have responsibilities to fulfill.
In life we make excuses for not doing what is asked of us. And still many of us come up with excuses to not do what we know we ought to do. We say “but” when it comes to our dreams and our callings. “I’m not strong enough. I don’t have enough money. I don’t look the part. I don’t have the proper credentials or qualifications.” The shame of feeling like you are your past mistakes. Pride, fear, shame, or an unattainable picture of perfection, are major drivers for us making excuses not to live into the holy responsibility God has given us. This isn’t new.
If we go back to the Old Testament, we see the same in Israel’s history. God chooses Israel before all other nations. God chooses to bless Israel before all of the other people in the whole world. God doesn’t force it. He needs cooperation. A coalition of the willing. While we know of the obedience of Father Abraham and the prophets. We also know that Israel all too often makes excuses to turn against God. They say,”...but God the country next to us has a king so give us a king...but they can actually see images of the gods they worship and we can’t see you...but their commands are easier to follow and they don’t have as many. Why do we have so many?...I know you said give to anyone who asks of you, but God, you got to understand, people take advantage of generosity and use it to destroy themselves. I can’t give to just anyone....Lord, I know you said resist the devil and he will flee but we live in a culture that doesn’t believe he exists so there is really no need to resist anything.”
Israel is often disobedient so God works through other people. Here, in II Kings, God is giving the enemy of Israel's success. The Arameans are enemies of Israel. The Lord has given Naaman victory according to scripture. When you cease to be who you were elected by God to be, he’ll begin to work through and give victory to the person you think is your enemy. If you’re standing in your pride and the status of what you’ve accomplished and it's all of a sudden beneath you now to serve in certain ways and do things for other people, then God will raise up those who have stayed humble and continued to serve him and humble you in the process. These words in Deuteronomy are some of the last words Moses has for Israel. They are words of woe and judgment for the way they turned their backs on their Savior God who delivered them from bondage.
Naaman shows us that God will continue to work out his good and perfect will even when his chosen people are unfaithful. You might recall what Jesus says to a Roman centurion, again, the enemy of Israel. “I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel.” This comes after the Roman centurion shows great humility and goes to great lengths asking Jesus to heal a servant of his. When we fail to use what God gives us, he’ll find someone who will. And God doesn’t play favorites. He doesn’t discriminate with who he’ll ask. No buts.
Is there an area of your life where you’re saying no to God? Do you want God to use you for his glory? What will it take for you to do that?
Prayer of St. Francis of Assissi
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.
O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version ® NIV ®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2014 by Biblica, Inc.®. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.