Wednesday, November 7, 2007

The Consequence Of Greed

The man of God's awkward smile betrayed his surprise. The Syrian had returned and all his aides with him. It was the first time Elisha had seen him in person, but he looked different than how the messenger whom he had sent out to meet him had described. No, Elisha had not put on his best garments, nor did he wait for Naaman hat in hand because he thought he could further his ministry, in fact he did nothing the Syrian expected him to do, that he may enter his good graces.
Elisha knew what a leper, one stricken with he merciless disease of leprosy ought to look like, and the man standing before him was no leper. He was clean, in fact his skin was flawless, like that of a child.
Although the Syrian spoke the right words, his actions betrayed his ignorance. If he now knew that there was no God in all the earth except in Israel, why then was Naaman offering a gift to him?
Elisha knew who had healed Naaman, he had only relayed a message, and not even in person, to a desperate man willing to travel to the land of his enemies, on the word of a little servant girl.
Here he now stood, healed of his leprosy, attempting to show his gratitude not to the God who healed him, but to the messenger. Yes, Elisha knew what he was, he knew he was a prophet, called of God, it is why he sent word to the King to have the Syrian sent to him, that he may know, there was a prophet in Israel. By the same token, Elisha also knew that a prophet is merely a vessel, made valuable only by that which is poured into it.
How could he receive gifts from this Syrian, well intentioned as he might have been?
No, he could not minimize God's involvement by receiving anything for himself. Could he have used what the Syrian was offering? Perhaps. Was Elisha rich? Probably not, but integrity is blind to personal gain.
The awkward smile broke, the man of God finally found the words he was looking for, although his heart and mind had long been settled. He did not want to offend the Syrian again, it had already happened once that day, but he had to make himself understood, he had to be clear that there would be no debate on the matter.
"As the Lord lives, before whom I stand I will receive nothing," Elisha said with conviction.
It was not Naaman's first time before sages and mystics. He had long exhausted all other avenues before venturing into the land of Israel, and few of the others had graciously refused his gifts, even though the had not helped him, but when he insisted that he should give them something for their time, they gave in and took what he offered, some even shamelessly asking for more.
Surely this man was no different, he had done what none other could, he had healed him, surely he would not refuse just recompense. Maybe it's not enough, maybe he's looking for a monthly commitment, a faith promise, but Naaman insisted that Elisha take what he had brought, perhaps thinking that the could send more once he got home, but the man of God rebuffed him again.
The matter had been settled. He wasn't just being coy, he wasn't angling for more, he really would receive nothing.
Seeing that he could not persuade Elisha, Naaman asked if he could take some earth that he may bring sacrifice upon it to the one true God. Two mule loads of earth later, Naaman was ready to go, and Elisha said, 'go in peace!'
Within earshot of this entire exchange was a frustrated man. Gehazi had chewed his fingernails to bloody stumps trying to keep his emotions under control. He couldn't believe his ears. How could Elisha spare the Syrian, he was ripe for the picking. He'd been healed, that's got to be worth something. Elisha might be a prophet, and his master, but he sure didn't know how to run a business. He'd never taken the course on how to maximize your profits, or the one on the capitalist gospel, but Gehazi would fix all that. "As the Lord lives," Gehazi murmured, "I will run after him, and take something from him."
Gehazi was bright so he did the math in his head while he ran, and came to the conclusion that a real, honest to goodness miracle must be worth at least a talent of silver, and two changes of clothing. He's a Syrian, he's rich, and he just got healed of leprosy. That has to be worth some twenty-three thousand dollars (the equivalent of a talent of silver) Gehazi reckoned.
Out of breath and sweating profusely, Gehazi caught up with Naaman and his entourage, the lie already established in his mind.
It was a good lie, a believable lie, two young men of the sons of the Prophets had just arrived from the mountains of Ephraim, and wouldn't you know it, Elisha had changed his mind and now wanted a few things not for himself, but for the young men.
Gehazi knew that if he asked his request would have little weight, or power to convince, but if he came in the name of his master, as one who was sent by the man of God, and spoke as though relaying a message from him, Naaman would be more inclined to open his purse strings.
(Take a second to read between the lines, I will pick the apples, but I will not feed them to you.)
Naaman was grateful for what had just happened, looking down at the pink skin of hi newly healed hands, he couldn't help but give more than what was asked of him. He bound two talents of silver in two bags rather than one, and even sent two of his servants to carry Gehazi's ill gotten loot back to the citadel.
The plan had succeeded, or so Gehazi thought. He'd stashed the silver in the house, sent Naaman's servants back to their master, patted himself down, made himself look presentable, and went in to stand before his master.
Brokenhearted, the hurt of betrayal etched on his weathered face, Elisha asked, "where did you go Gehazi?"
In an instant a million thoughts raced through Gehazi's mind: "Does he smell the sweat? Am I flushed in the cheeks? Am I breathing heavy? He trusts me, he's getting on in years, I can lie myself out of this!"
"Your servant did not go anywhere", Gehazi answered averting his gaze.
Then Elisha spoke the words that fell like a hammer blow upon Gehazi's heart, crushing his dreams of easy money, healing lines, new garments, and human adulation.
"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."
It was instantaneous, if not for the blotches, the boils, and smell of rotting flesh coming from him, Gehazi would not have believed that it could happen so suddenly. He went out of the presence of the man of God, leprous, and as white as snow.
The consequences of greed, deceit, and disobedience are far reaching. Though men aren't walking about these days with limbs being slowly eaten away by leprosy of the flesh, spiritual leprosy is just as hideous if you have the spiritual eyes to see it.
Greed eats away a the soul and character of a man, it devours and deforms from within.
The tragedy is that today, it isn't Gehazi who's chasing down the chariots of the Syrian, but the men who claim to be the Elishas among us, those who should be above taking credit for the work God does, who ought to know that the Word is not a means of gain.
Once these self professed Elishas catch up to the chariot, they too feel as though their word will not have sufficient weight, and so utter the damning words, 'the Master sent me, He said for you to give me silver and garments.'
You can't sell something that was never yours to begin with!
The words of the Master echo to this day, as a warning to all who claim to be His servants, "freely ye have received, freely give."

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea Jr.


Elm Street Chapel said...

"Freely ye have received, freely give."

Amen to that statement, brother. Anyone that is to be used by God should let these words be etched upon the tablet of their heart.

God gave us salvation freely, yes with a price, but to those who will receive it, all that is required of us is to walk uprightly before the One who was obedient to death, that we may have life.

The Spirit of the Living God has been given freely to us.

Thank God, for if it was not this way, the way God has made it, none of us would be worthy to receive all that He has for us.

God, you are all too wonderful.

In Him,

A Seed Sower said...

"Buy the truth and sell it not", is a Word the Lord planted in my heart long ago. Your right Bro Michael, we have no right to make ourselves rich at the expense of the sheep. When people are hungry for Truth, and we know that Truth we should freely give it to them. Not promise them if they just send $40.00 they can know the Truth, God will require every last penny if that is where a persons heart is.

Elm Street Chapel said...

True Michael,
"freely ye have received, freely give."

I wonder if Gehazi ever thought about what he saw.

I wonder if the Balim or Gehazi types would be as bold today if they were struck with leprosy.

I wonder how many would still follow them if they did get leprosy. Or if any would turn away at all?

Matthew 12
34O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.
35A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things.
36But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.
37For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.

Anonymous said...

Can we spell "GREAT falling away"? It saddens and grieves me that these folks operate under the banner of Christianity. MANY decievers, MANY would be decieved was prophesied. May God's mercy deliever many from the jaws of the wolves.

Anonymous said...

This has pierced me

deannaslater said...


I had a dream in 1992 of the invasion of America, and just recently in November of 2006, after beseeching the Lord to show me when this was all about to really happen I received the following dream.

I own a cleaning service, so I was at one of my accounts cleaning when I looked out the window and was allowed to see the radio waves falling to the ground. Already knowing this could happen from reading about others' dreams, I said, "Oh MY Gosh, it's happening." All I could think about was my kids. I tried to call them on my cell but it was dead. I ran out to my car it wouldn't start, so I started running and running, and I was running up this hill. I got to the top of the hill, and all I could see were military trucks, men on foot in uniform coming towards me, so I started running back down the hill, and in and instant was swooped away to the White House. I was flying through the White House to these large double doors and found that I was in a bedroom with a large king size bed. From behind came army men. They went right to the bed and took ahold of the man that was on the woman, and I could only see that he had black hair. I never saw the front of his face. They took him and mutilated him. Then I was drawn up close to the bed to see the woman that was lying there completely frozen stiff and terrified; it was Hillary Clinton. The soldiers took her and tortured her. It was horrific what they did to that woman. Then I was instantly back running down the hill. I ran into the first house I could find and sat down in a chair. There was a window right above the chair I was sitting in, and I looked out the window to see many soldiers everywhere. Two were talking near me at the window in a different language. They looked American but I knew they were Russian. Then a very large man in uniform came out of a room and looked at me for a long moment, then called another person into the room. I remember being at such peace. I knew I was with the Lord and no matter what happened I was safe with the Father. Then I woke up. When I awoke I felt very strong that the Lord was telling me when Hillary Clinton becomes president is when it was going to happen. What year of her term as president I do not know but it will happen then. Hillary Clinton announced her candidacy for president shortly after the dream.I'm crying in these past 2 weeks from the depths of my belly is coming groaning from the Spirit, wailing, great is the sorrow of the Spirit of the Living God, all is about to begin.

Anonymous said...

This reminds me of how Achan took gold, silver and a Babylonian robe as spoil and thought he could hide them in his tent. And it affected the entire community of Israel so that they fled and some were slain before their enemies. God judges this kind of sin severely - He had all Israel stone Achan and his whole household and then burn them with fire!

Also, Gehazi was taking this from an enemy of Israel. Abraham told the King of Sodom he would not take so much as a shoe latchet from him in return for doing him a good deed by rescuing people who had been taken captive with Lot.

Something the Father has been speaking to me about in my life recently is the fact that some people who want to give gifts to express supposed gratitude or respect or support are really looking for a "handle" on us. Or worse, on God.

I have not had a job for almost 5 months and was out of my own money pretty much from the first day - having had no savings. But I left that job in obedience to the Lord, and He has provided for me faithfully. I have not had to move or sell anything. Actually I was hoping the Lord would say sell everything and move. INSTEAD I have had to throw away every single item in my possession that someone could point to and say (which they absolutely would say and have said), "You can believe God is providing for you all you want, but the truth is, it was I who bought you this, that or the other, and if it weren't for me..." Oh really? Heave HO! The garbage man is baffled. I felt guilty at first that I should be giving more of it away, but the Lord said "OUT. It's devoted to destruction." ! Wow. IT IS! All of it! Reserved for fire!

Anonymous said...

Simon the sorcerer, Balaam, Gehazi, Aachan, Judas, Ananias and Sapphira...some of the more well known characters who were greedy for gain. They incurred the due penalties for their greed and dishonesty. God will not be mocked. Is there no fear of God amongst these people? Do they think that because they have been able to get away with their deceit and greed for so long that they will not be weighed in the balance and found wanting? I am always wary of any church programme, conference or course which costs a large amountmoney...and sadly most do.

A Seed Sower said...

I don’t know what it is about my thought process, yes I am a little strange, still God says He will have a peculiar people, but while sitting in my doctor’s office this morning, waiting to get my annual flu shot, I had what some may call a mini “revelation.” Now I must say right here I am not suggesting it was a “new revelation”, because there is no new revelation, it is all in the Word, there is nothing new, only what is in the Word can be revealed or enlightened to ones soul.
I heard the music that is piped through the sound system, you know the kind…well for a second, it sounded like what I should imagine is played in a place like say Las Vegas…for a second it sounded so seductive, so pleasurable ..only for a fleeting second, and I then the thought was placed in my mind, “This is the spirit that seduces the millions.” Then the process went further, I know it was the Holy Spirit speaking to me…He said to me, “That is the same seducing spirit that surrounds these slick new preachers and prognosticators of the so called enlightened gospel…that too is a doctrine of demons…”
And you know I thought to myself, that’s why especially one young fellow and his pretty little wife seem so endearing, so charismatic so charming so very likable…it’s a seducing spirit…Then there are those who cater to the greed in human nature…that to is a seducing spirit…seducing men to perdition…even as I am writing this, I say my goodness where did that big word come from, so I looked it up, (not that in the Spirit I didn’t know what it inferred), it means- destruction eternal damnation. Oh Lord let the people hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches.
My grandma used to say, “My dear all that glitters is not gold” in other words folks appearances can be deceiving. The Word of God says that in these last days, if it were possible even the very elect of God would be deceived. Let us be ever watchful and keep our lamps full of oil.

Anonymous said...

Dear Michael,

Thanks for the post. It helped to solidify some things that the Lord has been teaching me, namely about the fear of God. The early church in Acts obviously had the fear of God and so did the saints of old that walked with God (ie. "Noah, moved with fear..."; Paul -"Knowing the terror of the Lord, I persuade..."). Likewise, God is calling his saints today to walk with the same fear.

I believe that much of the corruption that we see going on in the American church is a direct result of the lack of fear of God. In fact, we would rather obey man and seek man's approval than obey God and gain His approval. The reason for this mindset is that we fear man more than we fear God.

Many of us (at least those not sitting under the tutolage of the Babylon church system) have probably heard sermons about the fear of God. If not, you have definitely read about it (assuming that you are a student of the word), because the pages of scripture are littered with this concept.

As a believer, I have always wrestled with whether or not I had the true fear of God active in my heart working itself out in my members. Because of this concern, I have often prayed and asked the Lord for a greater measure of this fear. Just recently, through a series of events and what I will call the Lord's discipline in my life, I have really begun to taste and experience the true fear of God.

You will know when you have really begun to to experience the true fear of the God when it begins to guide your thoughts, actions, and words. How many times have you entertained a sinful thought and did not immediately take it captive, thinking in your heart that the Lord will understand or you can just repent of it later? If you have, then you don't have the true fear of God. How many times have you looked at something either on a movie screen, billboard, or on television knowing that you should not have, thinking that it won't hurt anything, because God is gracious, abounding in love, and full of mercy and He knows our weaknesses? If you have, then you don't have the fear of God. How many times have you kept silent or did not speak the truth or a rebuke in love, because you didn't want to be rejected by friends or family even though God's name was being blasphemed, thinking in your heart that God has broad shoulders and he can handle it or do something about it if he wanted to? If so, then you don't have the fear of God.

Gehazi's problem in the story is not a one-time moment of weakness, but a clear lack of the fear of God operating in his life. Why did Gehazi lack the fear of God? He certainly had an exemplary model to follow in his master Elisha. What was it then that kept Gehazi and also keeps up from entering and walking in the fear of God?

I believe that it is a lack of discernment of the Lord's judgments in our life. Our heavenly Father is indeed slow to anger, full of mercy, and abounding in love, and in keeping with His character, He will discipline His children with as few lashings as possible when we initially wander from the narrow way. The problem, however, is that instead of discerning the Lord's disciplines and judgments in our lives (may be even through sicknesses), we think we are getting away with our waywardness and never equate or discern certain "life" experiences as a possible judgments or discipline. Because we fail to make this connection or coorelation, we fail to ultimately learn to walk in the fear of God. Paul's letter to the church in Corinth (1 Cor. 11:17-34)provides a great illustration of this when he writes to those who were taking the Lord's supper in an unworthy manner.

Although the scripture doesn't provide the detail, I think it is safe to say that this probably wasn't the first time that Gehazi was presented with the opportunity to receive gifts for a miracle that the Lord had performed through Elisha. I believe that it is possible to draw this conclusion by the way Elisha responds in the story. Gehazi took silver and clothes for his reward in this instance, but Elisha also mentions olive groves, vineyards, sheep and oxen, and servants. Here is the quote, "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."

By this statement, could it be possible that Gehazi on prior occasions, had taken liberty to receive these other gifts of oxen, sheep, olive groves, etc? If this be true, I wonder if Elisha or even the Lord Himself had used different means to try to discipline Gehazi and to keep him on the narrow way in those prior instances when he received gifts. Gehazi either failed to recognize or discern this discipline in his life because it never produced the desired consequence of the fear of God and obedience in his heart. It wasn't until he was probably struck with leprosy that he finally heeded the clear warnings of prior disiciplines and by that time it was too late.

The question that I ask myself and everyone out there in cyberspace is, "Are you heeding the Lord's discipline in your own life and letting it produce the desired fruit of the fear of God in your heart?" Give careful thought to your ways and begin to examine your heart and ask yourself why certain things are happening to you. It could just be the promised tribulations that all saints will have to endure, but it could also be the Lord's discipline. Let us all fall on the rock now (by heeding his discipline and letting his kindness lead us to repentance), or the rock will fall on us (through leprosy, death, or some other judgment) and destroy us.

This word can be applied to nations as well. America lacks the fear of God because it has failed to discern the Lord's disciplines and judgments in the land (9-11, Katrina, California fires, etc.) Isaiah 26:9 says, "When the Lord's judgments are in the earth, the people of the world learn righteousness," but only if the judgments are discerned as such and not just happen stance.

"Kiss the Son, lest he be angry and you be destroyed in your way, for his wrath can flare up in a moment." (Psalm 2:12)

"Blessed are all who take refuge in him."

May the Lord grant peace and understanding to those with ears to hear,

Brother Andrew

Anonymous said...

Thank you brother Andrew for your comment. What you say about the fear of the Lord is so true. The Lord is patient with us, longsuffering, and I believe Gehazi had been warned other times, as you say. I also have a hard time believing when Miriam was struck with leprosy that it was the first time she had said anything against her little brother Moses. :)

Anonymous said...

Proverbs 8:13

The fear of the LORD is to hate evil; Pride and arrogance and the evil way And the perverse mouth I hate.

Anonymous said...

Dear brother,
Do you think the people should be blamed also for their willingness to hear those wolfs? I guess every Christian in America can read the Bible if they can read the news papers or other books. The Bible is not so complicated and difficult to understand.
When the people don't want to hear from God, He send them deceptions.
God have mercy on us!
your sister,