Allison Morris got in touch recently via our church site (www.nwlcc.org). She sent me a fascinating graphic called “Why people lie”. Funnily enough the topic for our Bible discussion group was ‘deceit’ this week. With thanks to both the family group members and to Allison, here are three thoughts on lying from 2 Kings 5.
First a little background (read 2 Kings 5 to get the most from this post). Naaman is a great soldier in the army of Israel’s enemies. He contracts leprosy. Elisha (prophet of YHWH) shows grace and directs him to a healing. Naaman displays great humility in accepting the commands of a hated enemy, dips seven times in the Jordan and is healed. Naaman offers Elisha a gift, but the prophet declines. Gehazi is Elisha’s right-hand man.
- We lie when we feel we are owed something. “Gehazi, the servant of Elisha the man of God, said to himself, “My master was too easy on Naaman, this Aramean, by not accepting from him what he brought. As surely as the LORD lives, I will run after him and get something from him.”” (2 Kings 5:20 NIV11-GK) A sense of entitlement is fuel to the fires of deceit. It is when we are focussed on what we deserve that we forget who will be hurt by a lie.
- We lie when we do not respect authority. “Elisha asked him, “Where have you been, Gehazi?” “Your servant didn’t go anywhere,” Gehazi answered.” (2 Kings 5:25 NIV11-GK). Gehazi is Elisha’s servant, and self-identifies as such, but although the words are right, the attitude is not. The point, of course, is not that Gehazi disrespects Elisha, but that he disrespects God by lying to God’s prophet. We are more prone to lie when we forget that those we lie to are also God’s children.
- We lie when we forget that character is more important than things. “Naaman’s leprosy will cling to you and to your descendants forever.” Then Gehazi went from Elisha’s presence and his skin was leprous—it had become as white as snow.” (2 Kings 5:27 NIV11-GK). It cannot be a coincidence that the consequence of Gehazi’s deceit is to suffer from the same disease from which Naaman has been healed. Gehazi’s heart is in the same place as was Naaman’s before he was healed. God is more interested in our character than whether we are religious.