Posts Tagged 'castles in the sky'

Be Sure Your Sins Will Find You Out!


2 Kings 5:20—27


 It was Faber who famously wrote:

My very thoughts are selfish, always building mean castles in the air;
I use my love of others for a gilding to myself look fair.
Alas! No speed in life can snatch us wholly
Out of self’s hateful sight.

Attempting to build a Godly character and life on the foundation of self-interest is “building castles in the air.”  Castles in the air look good to other shallow, foolish builders, but they don’t really exist at all.  People would do well to take the advice of the Master Builder:  be careful where you build and what you build!

But those who hear my instructions and ignore them are foolish, like a man who builds his house on sand.  For when the rains and floods come, and storm winds beat against his house, it will fall with a mighty crash.  (Matthew 7:26, 27  TLB)

In the Old Testament we read about a little-known “castle builder.”  His name was Gehazi.

1.  Special position and privilege

Namaan had a terrible skin disease.  He was not an Israelite but his wife’s servant, who was an Israelite, told her about a miracle-working prophet in Israel:

“I wish my master would go to see the prophet in Samaria. He would heal him of his leprosy!”  (2 Kings 5:3  TLB)

Namaan thought that was a good idea, so he went to Israel armed with all manner of gifts for Elisha the prophet.  The Lord healed Namaan but Elisha didn’t want any payment.

“I know at last that there is no God in all the world except in Israel; now please accept my gifts.”  But Elisha replied, “I swear by Jehovah my God that I will not accept them.”  Naaman urged him to take them, but he absolutely refused.  (2 Kings 5:15b, 16  TLB)

It was truly an amazing miracle that not only healed Namaan’s body but also his soul.  He became a follower of Jehovah.  He resolved to worship Israel’s God even though state affairs of his own country required that he accompany his king on certain times of worship at his pagan temple.  Namaan’s miracle was amazing, but Namaan himself is an inspiring, historic figure.

Meanwhile, back at Elisha’s house, we learn that the great prophet had a servant named Gehazi, and Gehazi hated to see all those gifts go to waste.

Gehazi’s name means “valley of vision,” and being Elisha’s servant he must surely have seen many great and miraculous acts.  Imagine the things he saw and experienced living and traveling with a prophet of Elisha’s stature!  He lived and moved in a power spiritual atmosphere, yet that singular privilege didn’t seem to have much of an effect on his character.

But Gehazi, Elisha’s servant, said to himself, “My master shouldn’t have let this fellow get away without taking his gifts.”  (2 Kings 5:20a  TLB)

Gehazi, in spite of his position and very distinct spiritual blessings, remained worldly minded.  This is a great lesson for church goers!  Just going to church and associating with other Christians is not what changes a person’s heart.  A new heart and a renewed mind are the results of a genuine conversion experience.

2.  Selfish, worldly minded

Marley’s ghost could have easily called Gehazi, “man of the worldly mind!”  He was worldly, and he was selfish.  He seized the opportunity to get something for himself that he neither earned nor deserved.

“I will chase after him and get something from him.”  (2 Kings 5:20b  TLB)

He wasn’t going to let Namaan return home with all those expensive gifts.  If Elisha was too dumb not to take them, then he, Gehazi, would make sure he got something from Namaan.  He was a worldly, selfish, opportunist.

Certainly, the temptation must have been great.  How much could a prophet him paid him, after all?

We get a clue to this man’s character with the words “I will.”  He thought about it before he did it.  He planned to chase after Namaan; it didn’t just happen.  A lot us are “overtaken” by sin because of our sinful natures, that is, we get caught up in something sinful before we even know it.  But this thing that Gehazi did was not something that “overtook” him; it was a planned, deliberate sin.  He saw something that he wanted, and he schemed a way to get it.  Deliberate, sinful rebellion is what took place.

3.  Deceitful heart, deceitful actions

As soon as his mind was made up, Gehazi took off running after Namaan and all that good stuff Elisha refused to take.

So Gehazi caught up with him.  (2 Kings 5:21a  TLB)

He was slippery and he was stealthy.  Driven by his own greed, Gehazi caught up with Namaan.  We’ve already caught a glimpse of Gehazi’s pitiful character, now we see it contrasted with Namaan’s sterling character:

When Naaman saw him coming, he jumped down from his chariot and ran to meet him.  “Is everything all right?” he asked.  (2 Kings 5:21b  TLB)

Namaan has, once again, shown himself to be a changed man!  No longer do we see the proud, arrogant military commander of a few verses earlier.  Now we see a man concerned about others.  Namaan, recipient of God’s mercy, grace, and healing touch, had been a fallen, sinful man, yet now displays the grace of a true believer.  Gehazi, on the other hand, was one who had enjoyed all the privileges of being surrounded by God and God’s grace, and he is about to use that same grace to further his own selfish ends.

“…my master has sent me to tell you that two young prophets from the hills of Ephraim have just arrived, and he would like $2,000 in silver and two suits to give to them.”  (2 Kings 5:22b  TLB)

What a bold-faced lie!  Like a lot of con-artists, Gehazi mixes in just enough truth to make the lie sound like the truth.  The true part of the story comes from 2 Kings 4—

Elisha now returned to Gilgal, but there was a famine in the land. One day as he was teaching the young prophets, he said to Gehazi, “Make some stew for supper for these men.”  (2 Kings 4:38  TLB)

Gehazi implied that these men were destitute on account of the famine.  We can see how Namaan could draw his own conclusions.  We can also see how a black heart can manifest itself in sinful actions.  Sin always lies in wait, looking for the right opportunity to strike.  Who knows how long Gehazi had worked for Elisha?  He demonstrated in the past that he had faith.  Somehow he had been able to keep his sinful heart in check.  But without a new heart, it was only a matter of time before sin found this man’s Achilles’ heel.

For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it killed me.  (Romans 7:11  TLB)

4.  Temporary success

Gehazi’s lie seemed to yield success.

“Take $4,000,” Naaman insisted. He gave him two expensive robes, tied up the money in two bags, and gave them to two of his servants to carry back with Gehazi.  (2 Kings 5:23  TLB)

Namaan’s generosity is to be applauded.  He got the gifts ready personally for Gehazi to take back with him.  He gave the conniving servant even more than he asked for.  By now, Gehazi must have been amazed how well his lie had worked!  He may have even in his mind given God the credit for giving him so much.  A lot of Christians behave like that; they acquire things, sometimes by very devious means just like Gehazi, and when they seem to get away with it, they rejoice in their good fortune.

As we read what Gehazi did and of his success, the question must be asked:  Does the end justify the means?  Some people think that it does.  Some Christians think that it does.  But the Bible teaches us something else completely, and what happened to Gehazi’s drives the truth home.

5.  Shocking discovery

Gehazi’s deception continued—

But when they arrived at the hill where Elisha lived, Gehazi took the bags from the servants and sent the men back. Then he hid the money in his house.  When he went in to his master, Elisha asked him, “Where have you been, Gehazi?”  “I haven’t been anywhere,” he replied.  (2 Kings 5:25  TLB)

He hid the money and he lied outright to Elisha.  He sounded like a teenager.  “I haven’t been anywhere” is what a kid would tell his father!  Nobody can nowhere; you’re always somewhere!  For such a good lying con-man, this was a real dumb thing to say; a pathetic attempt to cover up a sin.

Christians would never do that, would they?  Think about the last time you went to pray with unconfessed sin in your heart or about the last time you lied to God by justifying your sin.

What happened next reminds us of Deuteronomy 32:32b—

…you may be sure that your sin will catch up with you.  (TLB)

This is one of those verses that we wish was not in the Bible.  Here’s another one—

A man who refuses to admit his mistakes can never be successful. But if he confesses and forsakes them, he gets another chance.  (Proverbs 28:13  TLB)

He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.  (Proverbs 28:13  NKJV)

Did Gehazi actually think he’d get away with what he did?  Look who he was working for!

But Elisha asked him, “Don’t you realize that I was there in thought when Naaman stepped down from his chariot to meet you? Is this the time to receive money and clothing and olive farms and vineyards and sheep and oxen and servants?  (2 Kings 5:26  TLB)

Elisha confronted Gehazi.  He knew where his servant had been.  You could argue that Elish simply knew Gehazi’s heart, but his detailed knowledge of what transpired showed that Elisha’s knowledge was miraculous.

Gehazi’s lies probably made everything worse, but in Elisha’s rebuke is a hint that what Gehazi did was far more serious than first thought:

Is this the time to receive money and clothing and olive farms and vineyards and sheep and oxen and servants?  (2 Kings 5:26b  TLB)

In other words, Gehazi’s greed had cast a dark shadow over the honor and integrity of Elisha’s office as a prophet.  Elisha did his work with NO expectation of pay.  What Gehazi did put Elisha on the same level as all the prophets-for-hire running around at this time in Israel.  Furthermore, Gehazi’s selfish act showed that he had no faith in God to provide for his needs.

There is no such thing as a “secret sin.”  God knew what Gehazi had done, and Elisha did, too.  Because he took advantage of his privileged position for personal gain, Gehazi had to be punished.  In an ironic twist of fate, Gehazi, who had chased after Namaan, a former leper, in order to get something from him, really did get something:  Namaan’s disease.

Gehazi became a victim of his own selfishness.  He became full of a disease and was banished.  The apostle Paul got it right:

For none of us lives to himself…  (Romans 14:7 NKJV)

The sins we engage in that we think effect nobody, actually harm the entire Body of Christ.  Gehazi’s sin harmed himself, Elisha, and even the honor of the Lord.

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