2nd October 2022

True boasting

Have you ever had a medical bill that made you cringe? Regardless of where you fall in debates over how you should pay for healthcare, there is one thing everyone can agree on. Good care is priceless. This is as true today as it was three millennia ago.

Perhaps you’ve heard of the story of Naaman. Naaman was a successful commander, competent warrior, and a well-regarded statesman. Yet the Bible reveals that he also suffered from a skin condition. In the ancient world, all dermatological conditions were lumped into the same category – leprosy. 

Help for Naaman came through a young, humble servant in his home. She told Naaman’s wife that the Lord’s prophet Elisha had the power to heal. We pick up the story in 2 Kings, where we find Naaman with a letter from his king written to the king of Israel:

…So Naaman left, taking with him ten talents of silver, six thousand shekels of gold and ten sets of clothing. The letter that he took to the king of Israel read: “With this letter I am sending my servant Naaman to you so that you may cure him of his leprosy.” (2 Kings 5:5-6 NIV)

It seems that even in the 9th century BC, specialized health care was expensive! The wealth that Naaman brought with him was significant, enough to buy a large swathe of land.

The prophet Elisha heard about the letter and told the king to send Naaman to him. When Naaman arrived, Elisha sent a messenger telling Naaman to go bathe in the river Jordan seven times before he will see him in person! This is the turning point in the narrative. Until this point, Naaman has relied on his own importance, resources, and power. But none of these things are considered in Elisha’s treatment plan. Naman is furious that Elisha won’t even see him and he leaves in a huff.

Fortunately, his servants intervened saying, 

“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!’ ” (2 Kings 5:13).

Convinced, Naaman washes in the river Jordan seven times, and is healed! Humbled and restored, Naaman wants to present Elisha with a gift, but Elisha refuses payment or privileges. Naman realizes the riches of God’s glory, and promises that any boasting he does in the future will not be of his own strength, but of the provision of God.  

The story of Naaman’s healing is the story of abundant Grace. It tells of how kings, generals, and warriors are powerless to change the things that really matter to us, but God’s grace is all-powerful. Naaman returned to Aram boasting in the one true God of Israel and the grace-filled deliverance God gave him.

Echoing these words, a millennia later the apostle Paul calls us to boast “in the cross of our Lord Jesus.” Like Naaman, we are powerless to heal ourselves – physically and spiritually. But we can boast in the one who restores us, redeems us, and fills us with grace. We boast in Jesus Christ.

Presented by Greg Williams

About the presenter:
Greg Williams is President of Grace Communion International and lives in North Carolina, USA. Word of Life each Sunday is taken from ‘Speaking of Life’, (https://www.gci.org/videos/media-speaking-of-life/), a public resource video on the USA website of Grace Communion International

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