Beware Of “I’m Owed This”

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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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God’s Originality

Have you ever noticed all of the different ways that God reveals Himself to people? He is original with every original person.

I love looking at the Aha! moments that people have. You know, the moments when the light comes on and they understand Who God is to them?

  • When Jethro heard how God delivered Moses and the Israelites from Egypt he said, “Now I know that the true God is greater than all other gods.”
  • When Elijah raised a dead boy back to life the boy’s mother said, “Now I know that you are a man of God and that you only speak His words.”
  • When Naaman was healed of leprosy he said to Elisha, “Now I know that there is only one true God.”
  • When David recalled all the ways God has delivered him from certain disaster he sang, “Now I know that the Lord saves His anointed.”
  • When Peter was delivered from prison by an angel he said, “Now I know that God did this.”

(check out the references for these examples by clicking here)

God reveals Himself uniquely to everyone because we’re all unique originals.

“Let God be as original with other people as He is with you.” —Oswald Chambers

Here’s the problem with God’s originality: We try to make our unique experience with God a universal experience for everyone else. We think that because He did it such-and-such a way for us that everyone ought to experience it the same way.


Think about the deliverance from lions in the Bible. In Samson’s case, God gave him supernatural strength to kill a lion with his bare hands; Benaiah went into a pit to kill a lion with his club; Daniel never even touched the lions, and they couldn’t touch him either.

Imagine if Samson was there with Benaiah: “Hey, brother, if you’re going to go after that lion, just wait on God to give you supernatural strength. If you really had faith, you would lose that club!”

Imagine if Benaiah and Samson were giving lion-killing advice to Daniel: “My friend,” Benaiah might say, “Please use my club.” And Samson would interrupt, “How many times do I have to tell you? No clubs!” Yet in Daniel’s case, God wanted the lions alive.

Perhaps you had your “Now I know” moment after a prolonged struggle in a particular area. Your tendency would be to tell others, “Get on your knees and pray and pray and pray. Pray really hard! It might take years, but God will eventually help you breakthrough.” Perhaps God wants to deliver someone else instantly.

Perhaps your “Now I know moment” came while reading from the King James Version of the Bible. Your tendency is going to be to hand out KJVs to everyone. Perhaps God is going to speak to someone through the New Century Version.

Let God be original with you. Let Him uniquely work with others too. Don’t make your “Now I know” experience the theology which rules everyone around you.

I’m so glad God is unique with every unique individual because each of us is a one-of-a-kind original!

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