“For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God . . . For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe.” – 1 Corinthians 1:18, 21
Scripture reading: 2 Kings 5:4-14
Naaman’s leprosy plays a dual role. It is a providential problem that leads him to seek help. It is also a picture of humanity. We are all sick, and helplessly so. In the providence of God, Naaman’s servant girl sends him to Elisha. Through a messenger, Elisha tells him, “Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored, and you shall be clean.” At this Naaman becomes incensed and rages against the remedy. Why? In a word: Pride.
Naaman was a great man and thought that Elisha would honour him by speaking to him himself rather than through a messenger. He wished to be recognized as someone special. Naaman was a rich man and wished to purchase his remedy. Elisha makes no reference to his wealth. The remedy was an assault on human intelligence. How does washing in the muddy Jordan remove leprosy? And, as a commander, Naaman didn’t like being told what to do. Naaman, in his pride, resists God’s grace, as do we all. Thankfully, God was determined to save him. Through another unnamed servant and through grace in his heart, Naaman was conquered by God and ‘he went down and dipped himself seven times in the Jordan, according to the word of the man of God.’
Pride is our natural inclination as sinners and pride rages against God’s remedy, to our own hurt. For us to be cleansed, God must humble us by His Spirit so that we embrace the foolishness of the wisdom of God. Has He done that for you?
Suggestions for prayer
Praise God for His pursuing and irresistible grace. Ask Him to continually humble us and others so that we might gladly embrace His remedy for sinners in His Son, Jesus Christ.
Reverend John van Eyk has served as Senior Pastor of Trinity Reformed Church (United Reformed) in Lethbridge, Alberta since 2017.