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Overcoming Pride

(2 Kings 5:1-5, 9-15a)

Lesson 11 -- first quarter 2005
February 13, 2005

by Mark Roth
© Copyright 2004, Christian Light Publications

Probing Your Own Heart

Do you believe God wants you to teach this lesson?

Do you believe God wants to teach you this lesson?

Building on Some Foundational Concepts

God chooses and uses whom He will.

We tend to assume most of the credit when we and our efforts succeed. We don't seem entirely inoculated against being pleased with ourselves because of what we have become and what we have accomplished. We must banish such self-focused, prideful thinking -- it discounts God and steals from Him the glory and recognition which belongs to Him alone. He is the One who decides whom to choose and use -- we owe our usefulness and our successes to Him.

We ought to honor those in authority over us.

By pointing the way for his healing, the little maid gave honor to the man likely responsible for her captivity. This honor was not forced from her; she volunteered it. So ought we to give honor to those to whom it is due. Even when one in authority conducts himself without the honor required by his position, we under authority must be subject with honor (Romans 13:1).

Our thoughts and ways are inferior to God's.

Naaman knew the result for which he wished. He also thought of a way in which that result would be achieved. Then Naaman discovered that God had a plan so different from his own that he furiously rejected it outright. He eventually learned that God's thoughts and ways were not only different from his, they were also superior. May we see that as clearly for ourselves and our plans as we see it for Naaman and his plans!

God gives grace to the humble.

For a man of his stature and accomplishment, Naaman possessed a measure of humility. He listened to the advice of a little foreign slave girl. He also agreed to deal with someone other than the king of Israel. God knew Naaman's heart and extended to him His grace. Then Naaman's pride and expectation balked, only to be won over by his humble acceptance of his servants' appeal. And once again he experienced grace. God still gives grace to the humble.

Questions and Responses

God gave deliverance to an enemy nation?

Certainly! God loves people, even those who despite and oppress His chosen ones. "O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!" (Romans 11:33). Our heavenly Father graciously "maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust" (Matthew 5:45). Read the context of that verse to refresh in your heart the practical applications for the Father's children.

Why didn't God register the little maid's name in the Scriptures?

It didn't suit His purposes nor did it fit within His higher-than-ours ways. Perhaps He maintained her historical anonymity in order to bestow more abundant honor on her later. Perhaps He kept her name from the record to teach us that He will give recognition to His faithful servants in His own way and time. We should remember her the next time we chafe at going unrecognized for the good we do.

How could the little maid care so much for her captor?

One possible explanation lies in her child-ness -- perhaps she hoped that a kind deed on her part would win her freedom and restoration to her people, if not to her own family. Another possibility is that God's love flowed freely from her heart. This care may have also been an expression of the honor she knew she owed her master. In fact, she could have had all three of those motivations.

Why would Naaman balk so wrathfully at washing in Jordan?

The solution to his need was just too simple...and too preposterous. His expectations had not been met. His pride and honor had been assaulted. He had shown plenty of openness and humility to this point, but every man has his limits. When we crucify our limits in order to pursue God's ways, God honors both Himself and us.

How could someone so great be so open to advice from his servants?

The fact we must ask the question brings to light our flawed understanding of true greatness.

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