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“So Naaman came with his horses and chariots and stood at the door of Elisha’s house. And Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, ‘Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored, and you shall be clean’ . . . So he went down and dipped himself seven times in the Jordan, according to the word of the man of God, and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean” (2 Kings 5:9,10,14).

NAAMAN WANTED TO BE CLEANSED FROM HIS LEPROSY, BUT HE DIDN’T LIKE WHAT HE WAS TOLD TO DO. When Elisha told him to dip himself in the Jordan River seven times, not only would such a menial act have been a blow to his pride, but he would not have seen any logical connection between the command and the benefit he hoped to receive. So he balked. But when his servants persuaded him to humble himself and obey Elisha, “his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.”

If we’re honest, we probably see something of ourselves in Naaman. If God were to require of us something grand and glorious, our obedience would be prompt. And if we think we see why God would require something (the instruction “makes sense” to us), we are willing to go along with Him. But when God commands things that seem lowly, arbitrary, or irrational, we dismiss those items as “works” only a legalist would view as “required.”

The fact is, it takes humility as well as trust to do things God’s way. If we only obey when it suits us and when the act commends itself to our sense of logic, we are not really obeying God — we are doing as we please. And such self-will is what got us into trouble in the first place. If God is ever going to be allowed back on the throne of our hearts, obedience is the thing we must learn.

Naaman’s obedience certainly did not earn him the cleansing of his leprosy. It had no “merit” that would cure him. But there is no denying this: if he had not been humble enough to accept the conditions that were stipulated, his leprosy would have remained.

An old adage says, “Understanding can wait; obedience cannot.” Abraham wouldn’t have understood why he should offer up Isaac, Noah wouldn’t have understood what a flood was, and Israel wouldn’t have understood going in circles around Jericho. But it was in their obedience that God would have started making sense to them.

“Obedience is the key that unlocks the door to every profound spiritual experience” (Dorothy Kerin).

Gary Henry — +

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