The danger of getting too used to the true God

The danger of getting too used to the true God

When Elisha healed the foreign army general Naaman from leprosy, he left to return home a changed man. That is where we might expect the story to finish, but the writer of 2 Kings includes the actions of Naaman’s servant Gehazi as well. Gehazi was upset that Naaman had brought such a lot of money to pay for his healing, but his master Elisha had refused to take even a small gift from the man. After intercepting Naaman on the way home and lying to him, Gehazi managed to secure some money for himself. It didn’t quite turn out the way he wanted, for his punishment was to be troubled by the leprosy that previously troubled Naaman.

Gehazi had been the servant of the great prophet Elisha for some time by the time we get to 2 Kings 5. We know this because he was named when Elisha brought the Shunnamite’s son back to life in chapter 4. Think about what Gehazi would have seen. Here is a man who trusts in the true God, who has had front-row seats to the most spectacular things God has done, and who has heard his master speak about God a great many times. If anyone knew what God was like, it was Gehazi.

Yet 2 Kings 5 contrasts Gehazi, the servant of Elisha, with Naaman the healed Syrian, and the comparison is not flattering. Naaman was humble and was keen to give a gift and to consider how best to serve God in his new life; Gehazi was proud and wanted to get more for himself.

I think there is a warning here for those of us who have been believers for a long time. When someone is a new Christian, they are appalled by their sin, they are keen to think about how to serve Jesus, and their enthusiasm is seen by all. But this is not always the way for those who have been believers for longer. We start to get used to certain sins and they don’t bother us as they should. We might forget how incredible it is that God has saved us and get a little too used to it. We start to consider what we can get out of things instead of how we can serve God better.

What can we do to ensure we don’t end up selfish and greedy like Gehazi instead of excited and thoughtful like Naaman? We need to have a healthy dose of thanks and prayer in our lives. We must take the time to think about what God has done for us, even if we have thought about that many times before. We should think about the words of the songs we sing in church and really mean them rather than going through the motions.

What God has done for you is absolutely astounding if you are a believer. That remains true for those who have been believers for decades. Don’t drift along without thinking; your natural instinct to sin may well lead you to things that are damaging to you and your faith. Take time to think and pray, to sing and celebrate, and to talk to others about God’s goodness.