2 Kings 5:19b-27 (NRSV)
Greed brings leprosy to Gehazi
But when Naaman had gone from him a short distance, Gehazi, the servant of Elisha the man of God, thought, "My master has let that Aramean Naaman off too lightly by not accepting from him what he offered. As the Lord lives, I will run after him and get something out of him." So Gehazi went after Naaman. When Naaman saw someone running after him, he jumped down from the chariot to meet him and said, "Is everything all right?" He replied, "Yes, but my master has sent me to say, 'Two members of a company of prophets have just come to me from the hill country of Ephraim; please give them a talent of silver and two changes of clothing.'" Naaman said, "Please accept two talents." He urged him, and tied up two talents of silver in two bags, with two changes of clothing, and gave them to two of his servants, who carried them in front of Gehazi. When he came to the citadel, he took the bags from them, and stored them inside; he dismissed the men, and they left.
He went in and stood before his master; and Elisha said to him, "Where have you been, Gehazi?" He answered, "Your servant has not gone anywhere at all." But he said to him, "Did I not go with you in spirit when someone left his chariot to meet you? Is this a time to accept money and to accept clothing, olive orchards and vineyards, sheep and oxen, and male and female slaves? Therefore the leprosy of Naaman shall cling to you, and to your descendants forever." So he left his presence leprous, as white as snow.
Ah! This is a terrible story!
But, it reminds me of the importance of two things. First of all, I am reminded of how dangerous greed truly is! It causes us to do terrible things and to make horrific compromises.
Secondly, I am reminded how dangerous it is to covet the blessings of others. I remember as a child my mother used to say, "What God has for me, is for me!"
In both cases, we get into trouble because we fail to celebrate the blessings and accomplishments of others. We desire what we do not have, rather than being grateful for the things that we do have.
All of this can be avoided if we learn to count our own blessings, as well as rejoice when others are blessed as well.
Today, I am thinking of the Chilean miners who will all hopefully be lifted to safety by Friday. I have heard others comment about how jealous they are about the amount of money that may be coming to the men who were underground almost 70 days!
I don't covet their blessings! I can't even begin to know what pain they had to endure in body, mind, or spirit, to be lifted out of that pit and back into society!
Instead, I am rejoicing that they will be rescued and reunited with their families. I am celebrating that they will get the medical care that they so desperately need. And I am praising God that he was able to keep them alive in the pit for so long.
Our God is an awesome God! When I see God blessing others I am encouraged because it means God can bless me too!
We don't have to be greedy for the blessings of our neighbors; instead, let us focus steadfastly on the God who blesses all of us, all of the time!
Let's pray: Good God, how I love you! You are so generous and so kind! You have never withheld from me anything that I truly need! Please forgive me for being greedy. Please help me to celebrate the blessings of others. I pray this in Jesus' Name, Amen.