5 important lessons from a prominent pagan

NOTE: This article uses simple English for the widest possible audience.

In ancient times, a powerful man named Naaman caught a horrible skin disease. The disease eats away the body’s limbs. It would eventually kill him.

Naaman was commander of the armies of Syria. He was a pagan. He did not worship the one true God.

Naaman heard that he could be cured of his disease in Israel. Israel was God’s people before Jesus arrived on the earth. The Syrian commander was directed to Elisha, a man of God.

Elisha sent Naaman a message. He told him what he must do to be cured: submerse himself seven times in the Jordan River.

Naaman thought something different would happen. He expected a fine ceremony for an important man like himself. He got mad and went away without being cured.

However, Naaman had some wise servants. They encouraged their master to do what the man of God said. To his credit, he listened. He went to the Jordan River and submersed himself seven times. After the seventh time, he was cured.

He then recognized the God of Israel as the only true God.

The story took place during the covenant of Moses, in the Old Testament (read 2 Kings 5). But it contains some permanent principles. These principles can help us understand how to relate to God today, even under the covenant of Jesus Christ.

Here are some quick lessons from this story.

#1. Naaman created expectations in his mind about what God should do to help him. Humans often have wrong ideas about God. So they must listen to what God himself says. God reveals his thoughts and plans in the Bible.

#2. Naaman reacted emotionally to the man of God’s instructions. When we let emotions determine our reactions, we will often react badly, and to our own harm.

#3. Naaman understood that the instructions were specific and determinative. (He knew he had to go to the Jordan River and not one of the rivers in his country.) God leaves nothing to chance. Even today, he tells us specific things to believe and obey. We must be well informed about them.

#4. Naaman was cured when he completed his obedience to the man of God’s instructions. We are saved from our sins when we not only believe what God says, but when we obey his commandments. God requires complete obedience.

#5. Naaman confessed God as the only true God. We must put away all false gods. We must reject idols. We must not let any bad attitude or wrong desire, such as greed, compete with our commitment to God.

Many of the Bible’s stories tell us important truths about God and what we must know and do in order to relate to him. Let us learn from them. Let us avoid the mistakes of people of old and follow the good examples of those who pleased God.

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J. Randal Matheny

Be pithy.

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