2 KINGS 5:19-27
19He said to him, “Go in peace.”
But when Naaman had gone from him a short distance, 20Gehazi, 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.” 21So 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?” 22He 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.’” 23Naaman 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. 24When he came to the citadel, he took the bags from them, and stored them inside; he dismissed the men, and they left.
25He 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.” 26But 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? 27Therefore the leprosy of Naaman shall cling to you, and to your descendants forever.” So he left his presence leprous, as white as snow.
Cast of characters:
Elisha: prophet of the Lord, apprenticed to Elijah; like Elijah, a powerfully anointed prophet for Israel, served under the reign of Joram, Jehu, Jehoahaz, and Joash.
Naaman: commander of the army of Syria; a good commander yet a leper; healed when he bathed in the Jordan seven times as commanded by Elisha; his offering refused by Elisha (witnessed by Gehazi).
Gehazi: servant of Elisha; his issues described above.
"For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows." -- 1 Timothy 6:10
"It's All About the Benjamins" -- Sean John Combs, aka Puff Daddy, Puffy, Diddy, and P. Diddy.
Whether celebrated in song or denied in person, the love of money, as the 1 Timothy passage says, is the "root" of "all kinds of evil." Drug cartels, sex trafficking, the mafia state of North Korea, Volkswagen's deceit in emissions testing, the corruption on Wall Street, the seedy world of political lobbying, the NFL concussion denials, big tobacco, et cetera.
Avarice hits the religious folks too. Gehazi should have known better and he should have acted better. He saw his master, Elisha, refuse Naaman's gift, so that Naaman would know that God's grace in healing is out of His generosity. But Gehazi subverts this gesture by using deceit to get money out of Naaman.
Well, Gehazi gets his comeuppance. The disease that Naaman had -- leprosy -- is transferred over to Gehazi (and his descendants, forever!) That's a high price to pay for two talents of silver and two changes of clothing.
Not everyone struggles with greed. Not everyone is consumed with consumption. But some do. From the long list of problems above, we might say many do. And in our capitalistic economy, greed can be easily cloaked as "driven," "hard working," "ambitious," "goal setting," and "entrepreneurial."
As with all sins, it's better to confess it, if you have it, and let the Lord help you with it. The thing not to do is to pretend you don't have it -- whatever the sin. Denial is never a good solution. Facing it, confessing it, asking the Lord to give you a better perspective on money are the things that help.
Let's pray: O Lord, help us with our greed. May the love of money for selfish ends be uprooted from our souls. For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evils and troubles. The lust for more ruins more lives than any physical sickness or societal ills. Help us to replace this particular love with a greater love for you and others. Instead of money being our security, our assurance of a good future, may you and your promises be that security and assurance. In Jesus' name, amen.