A Tale of Two Servants
2 Kings 5
Intro: I want to draw an analogy from this story and put it in the perspective of World Missions.
This is one of the greatest missions messages I’ve seen in a long time – hidden in this story of Naaman.
It’s not a stretch. There are several clear and amazing correlations in this story and world evangelism.
A. The Imperfection – vs. 1
Naaman was a captain; a great man; an honorable man; a mighty man of valor.
Naaman had a lot going for him. But he had a problem.
He was a leper.
Leprosy is the key issue in this story; leprosy is a picture of sin.
No matter who you are, no matter how good a person you might think you are, there’s an imperfection – sin!
- Romans 3:23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
- Romans 5:12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:
Sin is the main reason why there is a need for world evangelism.
The world is lost; they are unsaved; they are unbelieving; they are sinners in need of salvation.
B. The Intervention – vs. 3 – in this story, a little maid is the witness; a little missionary with a testimony
This chapter would be much shorter and end much differently had it not been for this little missionary.
She intervened; she inserted herself into this leper’s terrible situation.
That is what missionaries do. They intervene. Uninvited – unrequested – unwanted in many cases.
They see a need; they get a burden; they ask God to give them an opportunity to meet that need.
She couldn’t help Naaman, but she knew someone that could!
That’s what we as soulwinners do. We point them to the Great Physician! We deliver the Balm of Gilead!!
C. The Illumination – vs. 10 – God’s man gave Naaman clear and simple instructions to be cured of his leprosy.
Just as the gospel is the good news – this prescription; this formula; this solution to Naaman’s problem was good news.
The best news he’d ever heard.
The gospel is God’s communication; God’s illumination to the terms for redemption; hope; salvation to the world.
When we preach the gospel, we are communicating with the sinner God’s remedy for their sin problem.
It’s simple; it’s easy to understand; it’s free – doesn’t cost a dime – and best of all, it works!!!! Every single time!!
D. The Indignation – vs. 11 – Naaman was not happy with the message from God on how to be healed.
Just as Naaman was offended and angered by the truth, much of the world will respond the same way.
They may be get upset, but that doesn’t change the message.
They don’t like hearing that their false religion isn’t good enough.
They don’t want to hear that salvation is by faith and not by works.
They don’t appreciate being told that their idols and gods are not real and can’t help them.
But we preach the gospel anyway – to them it is foolishness, but to us which are saved, it is the power of God unto salvation!!
I Peter 2
- 7 Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner,
- 8 And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed.
E. The Invigoration – vs. 14 …like unto the flesh of a little child, and he was clean. (born again)
World evangelism is God’s way to give the world a new lease on life!
Better yet, He gives those which are dead in trespasses and sins a life; quickens them. (Ephesians 2:5)
They can be born again; saved; redeemed; healed; cured of their SIN PROBLEM!
- John 1:29 The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.
Thanks to a witness; a young missionary with good news from a far country, Naaman got healed.
What a great missionary story. But I want to look at the characters in this story this morning.
This message hit me like a ton of bricks Thursday morning out of nowhere.
There are two servants in this story; the little maid that served Naaman’s wife, and Gehazi, the servant of Elisha.
As I begin to look at them, I noticed that they couldn’t be more opposite.
They both believed in the God of Israel, but that is about where the similarities stop.
- One is male; one is female.
- One is young; one is presumably older.
- One is unnamed, the other’s name is given.
- One was in his own homeland, the other was in a foreign country.
- One was a servant voluntarily, the other was a servant by force.
- One was in close proximity to God’s man, the other all alone with no fellowship.
We could go on and on looking at the stark contrasts in these two servants, but I want to dig deeper.
I want to look beyond their circumstances and look at their character.
Charles Dickens wrote the classic “A Tale of Two Cities.” It showed the contrast in the economic state of England and France before the French Revolution. It described two social groups in the same city.
Dickens’ famous opening sentence goes like this:
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way—in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.
II Kings 5 story is A Tale of Two Servants. The little maid, and Gehazi.
It occurred to me that every one of us in here pretty much fall into one of these two categories.
The two servants in this story are still alive and are still serving in our local churches.
Looking at these two servants, one was Honorable; the other was Horrible. Let’s look at them.
I. The Honorable Servant
We know virtually nothing about this first servant. We don’t even know her name.
We don’t know her family, her hometown, her age or how long she had been serving Naaman’s wife.
The little maid in this story was an honorable servant.
Paul talked about being a vessel of honor – fit for the master’s use.
- 2 Timothy 2:21 If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work.
This little maid in this story was without a doubt an honorable servant.
A. Her Distressful Predicament – vs. 2
She had been kidnapped; brought away captive out of her homeland.
She was in a foreign land; there due to circumstances beyond her control.
It wasn’t her idea to be there; she was there because someone mightier and stronger than her had put her there!
Imagine the loneliness; the feelings of isolation; the many nights she cried herself to sleep.
Imagine the language barriers; the culture shock; the stress and anxiety that she had to contend with on a daily basis.
Serving people she didn’t even know, and probably didn’t even like.
But she was an Honorable Servant because she was able to see someone else’s needs; someone else’s pain.
B. Her Difficult Prerogative
When her master Naaman fell victim to leprosy, this little maid had two choices; let him die or help him live.
She had the choice to let nature take its course or intervene.
She was not responsible for his sickness, but she was responsible for his healing.
It wasn’t her fault he got leprosy. But it would’ve been her fault if he died with it never knowing there was a cure.
Someone in her position might have been glad to see her captor die a slow, painful death.
Anyone that had been through what she had been through would have been glad to see Naaman die.
But she didn’t want to see him die a leper.
Maybe she saw the pain in his wife’s eyes that her husband was being destroyed by leprosy.
Maybe she saw the hurt in the faces of his children that their daddy was a victim of this horrible disease.
Maybe she was moved by the shameful condition of a man that God said was a great man; a honorable man.
Regardless of what moved her, she made a difficult decision – help Naaman find healing.
She was an Honorable Servant because she made a conscience decision to intervene in Naaman’s problem.
World Missions is the local church assuming responsibility for the billions around the world that do not know God.
It’s not their fault they are sinners; it’s not our fault they are going to hell.
But if we have the truth, and have the capability to tell them, and don’t, then it will be our fault.
There’s nothing honorable about letting the world die and go to hell.
C. Her Dogmatic Presumption
Notice what she said in verse 3.
- 3 And she said unto her mistress, Would God my lord were with the prophet that is in Samaria! for he would recover him of his leprosy.
She was fully confident that if Naaman could go to Elisha, that he would be healed.
This is an astounding presumption.
First of all, why would Elisha heal a captain of an enemy host that had invaded Israel and kidnapped their people?
Secondly, what made her think it could even be done?
Where did she get the idea that Elisha could heal a leper, even if he wanted to?
Nobody had ever been healed of leprosy in Israel by Elisha.
But notice what Jesus said in:
- Luke 4:27 And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Eliseus the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, saving Naaman the Syrian.
Why is it that we don’t believe God can save someone, even when we’ve seen him do it over and over again?
Why do we doubt God’s power, when He’s been transforming lives for thousands of years?
She was an Honorable Servant because she believed God could do something that she’d never seen done before.
C. Her Dynamic Persuasion
- 4 And one went in, and told his lord, saying, Thus and thus said the maid that is of the land of Israel.
She had enough passion and conviction that someone overheard her remarks and took it to Naaman.
She was convincing enough in her faith, that her message was repeated to someone else.
She didn’t tell Naaman about being healed.
She told Naaman’s wife.
But someone else heard it and told Naaman.
QUESTION: How many times has mine and your witness been so passionate that it went beyond the person we were witnessing to?
How many times has your witness extended to a second and third recipient?
She was an Honorable Servant because her witness exceeded her intended audience.
Now let’s turn our attention to the other servant in this story.
II. The Horrible Servant
The man of God – Elisha, had a personal servant named Gehazi.
We see him in earlier passages. However, in this story, he was not an honorable servant; he was a horrible servant.
He brought much shame and disgrace on his master; on God, and on his entire family.
A. His Deficient Participation – vs. 10, 13
Though his name is not mentioned in verse 10, there’s a pretty good chance that the messenger was Gehazi.
The word MESSENGER is the Hebrew word: mal’ak which is translated ambassador a number of times.
The application here is of a soulwinner; or a preacher – sharing the message of salvation to a lost man.
But notice the half-hearted way in which this messenger participated in this role.
If this messenger was indeed Gehazi, he did a horrible job.
He did relay the message of salvation, but not with any real conviction or concern.
However, he didn’t do one bit more than he was commanded.
He conveyed the words of deliverance from His master, but he didn’t really seem to care if Naaman lived or died.
There’s a stark contrast in the passion of the little maid in verse 3, and the messenger in verse 10.
When Naaman got angry, it was HIS servants; the heathens; the pagans; the unbelievers that convinced him to obey.
It was Naaman’s servants that persuaded him to follow God’s formula; God’s directions. (vs. 13)
Nowhere do we find Elisha’s servant trying to convince Naaman to do what God said.
He watched him get angry and said nothing. (vs. 11)
He watched him reject the message and did nothing. (vs. 11)
He listened to him ranting about his unfounded preconceived ideas and said nothing. (vs. 11 But I thought…)
He listened to him concoct an alternate remedy and said nothing. (vs. 12)
He watched him walk away in a rage and did not go after him. (vs. 12)
How many times have we shared the truth of the gospel, but didn’t really care if they got saved or not?
How many times have we handed someone a tract, not really concerned if they ever read it or not.
How many times have we knocked on a door, hoping nobody would answer?
How many times have we “done our duty” but did it with zero compassion; zero burden; zero concern?
B. His Distorted Perspective – vs. 20
Gehazi noted in verse 20 that Naaman had been spared.
But notice how messed up Gahazi’s perspective was about this situation.
He didn’t mention how that Naaman had been spared a horrible death.
He didn’t take notice that Naaman’s marriage had been spared.
He didn’t care that Naaman’s children had been spared the pain of no daddy in the home.
He didn’t care that Naaman’s army was spared the loss of a great, honorable and mighty man of valor as a leader.
He didn’t care that Naaman was spared from a life of shame and disappointment and loss.
All he saw was that Naaman had been spared having to pay for it.
- 2 Kings 5:20 But Gehazi, the servant of Elisha the man of God, said, Behold, my master hath spared Naaman this Syrian, in not receiving at his hands that which he brought: but, as the LORD liveth, I will run after him, and take somewhat of him.
C. His Disturbing Priority
Notice what he said: I will run after him, and take somewhat of him.
I find it interesting that Gehazi ran in the previous chapter, but only because Elisha told him to.
The running is chapter 4 was Elisha’s idea; not his.
The running in chapter 4 was to check on the welfare of another person; not his own.
The running in chapter 4 was at the command of Elisha; not his own concern.
But in chapter 5, he now wants to run.
This time, the running is not out of concern for another, but out of coveting another.
The running this time is not to meet the needs of another, but to satisfy his own selfish lusts.
The running this time wasn’t to give, but to take.
How many of God’s servants will get motivated and excited about something for themselves.
How many will have to commanded to run when it involves others, but they are compelled to run when it’s for them?
That little maid in verse 3 wasn’t thinking about herself.
She wasn’t looking for an angle to improve her situation.
She was going to get nothing out of this arrangement.
Naaman getting healed wasn’t going to change her life all that much.
Look at Elisha’s sharp rebuke in verse 26 – Is it a time to receive money…?????
Let me ask you something, Church. What time is it?
Is it time to pad your pockets?
Its it time to focus on hobbies?
Is it time to fill your life with sports and entertainment?
Is it time to expend your energy on things of no eternal value?
There’s nothing honorable about being a servant of God, and running to and fro serving yourself!
D. His Deceptive Portrayal – vs. 22
Gehazi wasn’t just a covetous and lustful man, but he was a liar.
He lied in verse 22 to Naaman, and he lied to his master in verse 25.
He tried to camouflage his own personal wants as a concern for others.
NOTE: He took what was designated for ministry and kept it for himself.
He tried to convince Naaman that he was trying to be a blessing to the sons of the prophets, when he wasn’t.
He knew how to hide and mask his real heart.
How many Christians today are living a lie?
They try to make God think they care about the ministry, but it’s all a show?
How many try to give the appearance of being involved in the work of God, but they really aren’t?
Conclusion: It occurred to me that every one of us in here fall into one of these two categories.
- We will either be motivated by GRACE, or motivated by GREED.
- We will either have a testimony of COMPASSION, or one of COVETOUSNESS.
- We will either be stirred by the NEEDS OF THOSE AROUND US, or the WANTS THAT ARE WITHIN US.
- We will either INTERVENE in the needs of others, or we will INTERFERE.
The story started out with Naaman in verse 1 – “…but he was a leper.”
But the dishonorable, deceitful servant ended up in verse 27 as the leper.
The diseased sinner got purged; the deceitful servant got punished.
The sinner was restored to his family; the horrible servant lost his family.
Closing Observations about Gehazi:
He got leprosy – not just leprosy, but the same leprosy that Naaman had. – vs. 27
This tells me that a servant that doesn’t do his job is no better than the people we are supposed to be helping.
Also, lepers must separate from society.
Gehazi had the opportunity to intervene in the lives of others and didn’t do it. He squandered that chance.
Now, he will never be able to help another leper get healed.
Don’t underestimate the power of lost opportunities. It might be your last!