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On Mother’s Day, I shared a word of encouragement from a woman who interacted with the prophet Elisha. As I was studying for this message, I paused to consider an example—actually a warning—that comes from Elisha’s servant Gehazi.
Because of the miraculous things that God had done through Elisha, word began to spread about God’s power that was on display through this godly prophet. In fact, word even spread to other countries, including the land of Aram where was a highly decorated military commander named Naaman lived. This revered leader was afflicted by leprosy. The king of Aram sent Naaman to Elisha to be cured of this disease (see 2 Kings 5).
When Naaman came to Elisha, he was given instructions to bathe himself seven times in the Jordan River. Initially, Naaman balked at this, but eventually, he humbled himself in obedience and was miraculously healed of his leprosy!
Naaman had come to Israel and Elisha with the intention of buying a miracle (just take a look at the treasures that he brought with him). Elisha would not accept money or gifts from Naaman. Not that there’s anything wrong with a prophet receiving gifts, but not when the intention of the giver is to give a bribe.
This is where Gehazi makes a fatal mistake. Gehazi has a conversation with himself (notice the phrase “he said to himself”) that he should have had with Elisha. He determined that he and Elisha were owed something for their ministry work. Gehazi then compounded this unhealthy conversation by telling one lie after another lie to justify the conclusion he had reached.
Elisha knew that God keeps track, that God keeps perfect records, that God will reward far better than any man ever could. He said, “Is this the time to take money or to accept clothes?” No! We need to let God determine the timing and the gift.
As a result, the leprosy that had left Naaman now attacked Gehazi. In reality, it was a leprosy of his heart that merely appeared on his skin. Gehazi was then dismissed from his ministry position with Elisha.
Sadly, I’ve witnessed many ministry leaders who have derailed their leadership with an “I deserve this” attitude. Thinking “I’m owed this” took their eyes off God and put them on the rewards they thought they should have received. How sad this is!
We all need to be on guard. The “I’m owed this” lie didn’t just derail Gehazi, it’s also what turned Lucifer into satan. Is it any wonder, then, that satan uses this lying attitude as an effective weapon—from Adam and Eve, to King David, to Gehazi, to Ananias and Sapphira, all the way down to us.
Our constant prayer should be, “Holy Spirit, guard my heart against the leprosy of entitlement. Help me keep the ‘I’m owed this’ attitude far, far away from my heart’s door.”
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