Week 41 Thursday
“Serve the Lord with gladness! Come before His presence with singing! For the Lord is good; His mercy and loving-kindness are everlasting. His faithfulness and truth endure to all generations.”
Psalm 100: 2-5
“Teach me Thy love to know;
That this new light which now I see,
May both the work and workman show;
Then by a sunbeam I will come to Thee.”
Today’s Study Text:
“And he (Elisha) said unto him (Gehazi), ‘Went not mine heart with thee, when the man turned again from his chariot to meet thee? Is it a time to receive money, and to receive garments, and oliveyards, and vineyards, and sheep, and oxen, and menservants, and maidservants?’”
II Kings 5: 26
“Is It A Time”
“What God asks of us is a will which is no longer divided between Him and any creature. It is a will pliant in His hands which neither seeks nor rejects anything, which wants without reserve whatever He wants, and which never wants under any pretext anything which He does not want.”
What do I think Elisha meant when he asked Gehazi, “Is this the right time to receive money and garments and land and servants?”
In my life, have I ever felt that God was calling me to do something for Him that meant how I was using my time needed to change?
“You don’t have to be any more talented, any richer, any slimmer, any smarter, any more or less of anything to partner with God. All you have to be is willing to be used by Him in everyday ways.”
“’No one can serve two masters; for either (she) will hate the one and love the other, or (she) will stand by and be devoted to the one and despise and be against the other. You cannot serve God and mammon (deceitful riches, money, possessions, or whatever is trusted in).’”
Matthew 6: 24
Having just lied to the prophet he served, Gehazi now had to face the music. The truth was going to come out, and it did when Elisha looked into Gehazi’s eyes and said with point blank clarity, “Gehazi, you have been somewhere. My heart went with you. I saw Naaman’s chariot turn around. Don’t try and fool me. I know exactly what went down.” I like the way Bible commentator Matthew Henry describes this situation recorded in II Kings 5: 26, “Had Gehazi yet to learn that prophets had spiritual eyes? Could he think to hide from Elisha, from him whom the secret of the Lord was with?”
As Henry goes on to question, “Did not the eye of God go with Gehazi?”
How strange it is that we think we will be able to keep secret that which we hope to hide. Elisha’s heart and eyes had followed Gehazi every step down the road toward Naaman’s chariot. He knew exactly what was taking place. But what’s more, God saw the dreadful path that Gehazi chose to walk. As Solomon penned in Proverbs 12: 19, “Truthful lips shall be established forever, but a lying tongue is credited but for a moment.” Let’s just say the chickens had come home to roost and they were crowing very loudly.
Gehazi had been caught with his hand in the cookie jar – something I happen to understand for my grandma had one of those cute ceramic Dutch girl cookie jars years ago. Little hands loved lifting the lid, as quietly as possible, and then after getting a delicious icebox cookie from the jar, I’d try and put the lid back on without making a clanking-sound. Inevitably, someone would come around the corner into the dining room and my sneaky behavior was on display.
This is what happened to Gehazi. But here’s where I find the Bible such a fantastic guide for life. Instead of telling Gehazi off or condemning him with talk of hell-fire and brimstone, Elisha asked a probing question, one that is appropriate to ask in each of our lives, thousands of years later. While I want to study Elisha’s words recorded in the King James Version of the Bible, I want to share how II Kings 5: 26 reads in The Message Bible, “Elisha said, ‘Didn’t you, Gehazi, know I was with you in spirit when that man (Naaman) stepped down from his chariot to greet you? Tell me, is this a time to look after yourself, lining your pockets with gifts?” I want to share a few more words from Matthew Henry who I believe really captures the truth at the heart of this story. He makes this keen observation about Elisha’s words to Gehazi, “’Is it a time to receive money? Is this an opportunity of enriching thyself?’ Those that are for getting wealth at any time, and by any ways and means whatsoever, right or wrong, lay themselves open to a great deal of temptation…It is not a time to increase our wealth when we cannot do it but in such ways as are dishonorable to God and injurious to those close to us.”
If we look closely at II Kings 5: 26, especially the details found in the King James Version, I want to point out that Elisha, highlighted for Gehazi, three distinct areas, besides the money and garments which he took, that I would like scrutinize more closely. Elisha asked Gehazi, “Is it a time to receive money, and to receive garments.” But there’s more to the list:
#l: Oliveyards and vineyards. Some scholars note that it is quite possible that Gehazi felt he could take the “silver” from Naaman and purchase his own land with the money he received (for work he did not do!). As I read this text, I wondered if possibly Elisha might have been thinking about the greedy act of Queen Jezebel who brought in false witnesses against Naboth so she could land-grab for her husband the vineyard he wanted. Who knows? But it is likely that the untimely act of robbery of an innocent victim by Jezebel was, in Elisha’s mind, no different than Gehazi’s theft of silver and garments from Naaman.
#2: Sheep and Oxen. The lesson here may be completely different but I’d like to offer this thought. When Elijah called the young Elisha to ministry, he was plowing on his father’s land with oxen. When called, Elisha used the yoke on the oxen as firewood for the meat dinner which was made from the oxen he had used to plow the field. If we look at this story we can only come away with the realization that Elisha left his “secular” labor and came to work for Elijah with an undivided heart. He even destroyed his work implements. In modern language, he “burned his bridges” for when he left his father’s farm, he came to Elijah with no other thing upon his mind and heart than the service of God. Gehazi, if he was listening, couldn’t help but realize that it was the conflicting desires of his heart which had gotten him in so much trouble. One foot in the work of God and one in the love of the world. F. W. Krummacher shines a light on the reasons for Gehazi’s downfall when he wrote, “Gehazi’s conduct looks dark indeed…he must have neglected to sit down and count the cost. He must have taken but little notice of the nature of God’s Kingdom…the dull realities of every-day life were found not to yield him what his vain and selfish imagination had depicted…(Gehazi) burned inwardly like a furnace with love of the world, but outwardly wearing the guise of singular abstraction from it; with the bodily eye directed to the heavenly Canaan, but the mental eye lusting after the fleshpots of Egypt.”
#3: Manservants and maidservants. As I read this phrase, my mind went back to the early ministry of Elisha, the ten years in fact, when he served Elijah and had to hear the mocking words that he was only the person who “poured water” on Elijah’s hands. Elisha was likened to nothing but a common house-boy or servant. Yet, instead of chafing under the “commonness” of his daily tasks, he worked as unto God and in the words of Rory Noland, Elisha found that, “There is no role that is unimportant and no job that is trivial.”
Today the question comes to each one of us, “Is it a time to receive from the things of earth or is it a time to receive of the things of God?” As author Jim Elliot noted, “(She) is no fool who gives what (she) cannot keep to gain what (she) cannot lose.”
“One good thing about God’s gifts and calling is that they are permanent and enduring.”
“As Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee, He noticed two brothers, Simon who is called Peter and Andrew his brother, throwing a dragnet into the sea, for they were fishermen. And He said to them, ‘Come after Me, letting Me be your Guide, follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men!’ At once they left their nets and became His disciples, sided with His party and followed Him.”
Jesus Calls Us
“Jesus calls us; o’er the tumult
Of our life’s wild, restless sea,
Day by day His sweet voice soundeth,
Saying, ‘Christian, follow Me.’
Jesus calls us from the worship
Of the vain world’s golden store,
From each idol that would keep us,
Saying, ‘Christian, love Me more.’
In our joys and in our sorrows,
Days of toil and hours of ease,
Still He calls, in cares and pleasures,
‘Christian, love Me more than these.’
Jesus calls us! By Thy mercies,
Savior, may we hear Thy call,
Give our hearts to Thy obedience,
Serve and love Thee best of all.”
Mrs. Cecil Frances Alexander
“Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon son of John do you love Me more than these others do – with reasoning, intentional, spiritual devotion, as one loves the Father?’ Peter said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord, You know that I love You, that I have deep, instinctive, personal affection for You, as a close friend.’ Jesus said to Peter, ‘Feed My lambs.’”
John 21: 15
Dorothy Valcàrcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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