By Sandy Jones
“The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.” (Proverbs 12:15 ESV)
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.
Now bands of raiders from Aram had gone out and had taken captive a young girl from Israel, and she served Naaman’s wife. She said to her mistress, “If only my master would see the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy.” (1 Kings 5:1-3)
You’re probably thinking this is the oddest Scripture to start an article with, but it’s also the very message I so desperately needed to hear recently.
Naaman was a mighty warrior. Tough and strong. Well respected, and highly thought of, but… he had leprosy.
Answers in Genesis (AnswersinGenesis.org) describes leprosy in this way: “Patients with leprosy experience disfigurement of the skin and bones, twisting of the limbs, and curling of the fingers to form the characteristic claw hand. Facial changes include thickening of the outer ear and collapsing of the nose.
“Tumor-like growths called lepromas may form on the skin and in the respiratory tract, and the optic nerve may deteriorate.”
In short, leprosy wasn’t anything Naaman could hide or cover up, and it came with huge social stigmas.
In the next paragraph we see a young Israelite girl, someone captured perhaps by Naaman’s own military unit and now enslaved to serve his wife, suggest that he, her master (a term of respect), go to see the prophet in Samaria for a cure. The prophet Elisha.
So Naaman went with his horses and chariots and stopped at the door of Elisha’s house. Elisha sent a messenger to say to him, “Go, wash yourself seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will be restored and you will be cleansed.” But Naaman went away angry…
In this section we see that the interaction between Naaman and Elisha did not go as Naaman anticipated. He left in a rage, feeling slighted.
Naaman’s servants went to him and said, “My father, if the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more, then, when he tells you, ‘Wash and be cleansed’!” So he went down and dipped himself in the Jordan seven times, as the man of God had told him, and his flesh was restored and became clean like that of a young boy. (1 Kings 5:13, 14)
Fortunately his servants were able to reason with him, and the story ends well.
The tale of this interaction got me to thinking and asking myself, who do I turn to for counsel? But perhaps even more important, whose counsel do I listen to?
The advice of a slave girl got Naaman healed. While it may have been the counsel received from the great prophet Elisha that ultimately cured Naaman, he allowed himself to be offended; and, if he’d had his way, he would have stormed off, gone back home…and continued to suffer. Alas it was his servants who were able to reason with him, to talk him off the ledge so to speak, and get him to obey.
As I pondered this lesson, I had to take a hard look at my circle of influence. My WHOLE circle of influence. I had to ask myself if there are any whose counsel I discount? Blow off even? Are there any so meek and mild that I don’t consider their messages credible?
Speaking of their messages, have I considered some of the things asked of me too small, not grand enough? Not important or special enough?
This poem, quoted by some who influence me personally, says it so well:
“Father, where shall I work today?”
And my love flowed warm and free.
Then He pointed out a tiny spot
And said, “Tend that for me.”
I answered quickly, “Oh no, not that!
Why, no one would ever see,
No matter how well my work was done
Not that little place for me.”
And the word He spoke, it was not stern;…
“Art thou working for thee or for me?
Nazareth was a little place,
And so was Galilee”
No one can deny that our nation has been through a time of terrible turmoil, and it’s true I’ve been oddly quiet. It’s not that I’m not heartbroken, trust me I am. It’s not that I don’t care, believe me I do. I simply have not felt that I can find the right words – my words feel hollow and shallow – short of substance.
I don’t want to be contrite. I don’t want to overstate. I definitely don’t want to add to the division that I see tearing our land apart. I find myself repeatedly asking why are Christ’s two greatest commandments so hard to follow?
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Matthew 22:37-39 NIV)
I am committed to being the Hands and Feet of Christ – won’t you please join me?
Until next time…
We’re celebrating 7 years of bringing you hope, inspiration, and perhaps even a new perspective. We couldn’t have done it without the encouragement of you, our readers, nor the support of our advertisers. I ask that you please return the favor and support the very advertisers who make Christian Living Magazine possible. We couldn’t do what we do without them!