Almost daily, we hear or read about the malfeasance of some trusted individual, whether a key employee at a business or an elected official at some level of local, state or federal government.
It seems that financial pressures or simple greed cause integrity to evaporate for some, when opportunity for personal gain is presented. Such dishonest acts are disheartening for those betrayed by them and can be very costly on a number of levels.
But, this kind of misuse of one's office is not new by any means. In fact, there is an account of a trusted person betraying the prophet Elisha in the Old Testament of your Bible. It is a fascinating story which illustrates a very important lesson for us today.
In the Book of 2 Kings, chapter 5 contains the account of the healing of Naaman, a general who commanded the Syrian army. While he was a very successful general and a powerful figure in Syria, he had a great problem. You see, Naaman was a leper. You can read the details, but in the story, Naaman listened to a young Hebrew captive who was his wife's servant. In the story, the famous general was healed of his leprosy after he followed the prophet's simple instructions. The general wanted to show his gratitude and offered Elisha a generous gift. The prophet refused, explaining that he would not accept anything for his service to the general.
Elisha's trusted servant, Gehazi, however, saw an opportunity for personal gain from this miracle. He followed the general and fabricated a story about his master changing his mind and asked for a reward. "So Gehazi pursued Naaman. When Naaman saw him running after him, he got down from the chariot to meet him, and said, 'Is all well?' And he said, 'All is well. My master has sent me, saying, "Indeed, just now two young men of the sons of the prophets have come to me from the mountains of Ephraim. Please give them a talent of silver and two changes of garments."' So Naaman said, 'Please, take two talents.' And he urged him, and bound two talents of silver in two bags, with two changes of garments, and handed them to two of his servants; and they carried them on ahead of him. When he came to the citadel, he took them from their hand, and stored them away in the house…" (2 Kings 5:21-24).
A foolproof plan, right? Wrong! The deceptive act was revealed to Elisha. "Now he went in and stood before his master. Elisha said to him, 'Where did you go, Gehazi?' And he said, 'Your servant did not go anywhere.' Then he said to him, 'Did not my heart go with you when the man turned back from his chariot to meet you? Is it time to receive money and to receive clothing, olive groves and vineyards, sheep and oxen, male and female servants? Therefore the leprosy of Naaman shall cling to you and your descendants forever.' And he went out from his presence leprous, as white as snow" (vv. 25-27).
Why did prophet not accept a gift for his service? Notice his question, "Is it time to receive money and to receive clothing, olive groves and vineyards, sheep and oxen, male and female servants?" Elisha asked a question that we should consider today. Should the main thrust, emphasis and activity of our lives be to amass wealth and property or should we be more concerned about accomplishing the work we, as Christians, have been given to do. What did the Messiah say? "And do not seek what you should eat or what you should drink, nor have an anxious mind. For all these things the nations of the world seek after, and your Father knows that you need these things. But seek the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you" (Luke 12:29-31).
If your main focus and emphasis is on what you can get for yourself in this life, you will make the mistake that Gehazi made with disastrous results.
We don't have unlimited time. Notice John 9:4, "…the night is coming when no one can work." With this in mind, shouldn't we press on to preach and publish the "Good Message" of the coming Kingdom of God? As the prophet said, "Is it time…?"
If you want to know more about the work of the church in these last days, request our booklet, Restoring Original Christianity.