Crossways Concepts

Because it is all about the cross...

Insights from the scripture as lead by the Holy Spirit

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There Is No Free Lunch

At the dentist's office there are a huge number of cleaning appointments that get canceled.  Those people that cancel those appointments know that getting their teeth cleaned is good for them. Yet they have many excuses for not getting it done.  When it comes right down to it, they just don't want to do what is good for them.

This isn't an isolated situation.  Consider things like getting exercise, sleeping enough or eating right – over and over again you can find situations where people know what is best for them, but they aren't willing to pay the price.  Whether the price is in terms of dollars, time, junk food, pride or couch potato time, they decide that the cost is greater than they are willing to pay.

The Bible tells us the story of a man that was highly successful.  He seemed to have everything going for him, except in one area: he had a disgraceful skin disease.  In this time, skin diseases were considered to be a scary sign of infections disease.  People would turn and move rapidly the other direction when they see you coming down the street.  To acquire one of these diseases could easily ruin a person, making him unable to live with others or transact business.

So you would think that a wealthy, successful man would do anything to get rid of the disorder, wouldn't you?  What possible cost would be too high for this man to refuse healing?

Naaman, commander of the army for the king of Aram, was a great man in his master's sight and highly regarded because through him, the LORD had given victory to Aram. The man was a brave warrior, but he had a skin disease.

Aram had gone on raids and brought back from the land of Israel a young girl who served Naaman's wife. She said to her mistress, "If only my master would go to the prophet who is in Samaria, he would cure him of his skin disease."

So Naaman went and told his master what the girl from the land of Israel had said. Therefore, the king of Aram said, "Go and I will send a letter [with you] to the king of Israel."

So he went and took with him 750 pounds of silver, 150 pounds of gold, and 10 changes of clothes. He brought the letter to the king of Israel, and it read:

When this letter comes to you, note that I have sent you my servant Naaman for you to cure him of his skin disease.

When the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his clothes and asked, "Am I God, killing and giving life that this man expects me to cure a man of his skin disease? Think it over and you will see that he is only picking a fight with me."

When Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel tore his clothes, he sent [a message] to the king, "Why have you torn your clothes? Have him come to me, and he will know there is a prophet in Israel." So Naaman came with his horses and chariots and stood at the door of Elisha's house.

Then Elisha sent him a messenger, who said, "Go wash seven times in the Jordan and your flesh will be restored and you will be clean."

But Naaman got angry and left, saying, "I was telling myself: He will surely come out, stand and call on the name of Yahweh his God, and will wave his hand over the spot and cure the skin disease. Aren't Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them and be clean?" So he turned and left in a rage.

But his servants approached and said to him, "My father, if the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more [should you do it] when he tells you, 'Wash and be clean'?" So Naaman went down and dipped himself in the Jordan seven times, according to the command of the man of God. Then his skin was restored [and became] like the skin of a small boy, and he was clean. (2 Kings 5:1-14)

To get what he needed, he had to surrender the cost.  In his case, he needed to surrender his pride.  Although his disease had undoubtedly damaged his pride, he still had enough pride to refuse the humbling instructions of the prophet.

At first it seems hard to believe, that a man whose entire success is on the fence, yet he won't humble himself in order to get healed.  But, it shouldn't really be that hard to believe, this kind of thing happens all the time.  Why did Jesus say that “it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God” or talk so much about a humble heart?  Because to enter the kingdom of God requires surrender of pride.

Naaman was expecting God to work on his behalf and in accordance with His notions of how God is “supposed” to work.  He isn't the only person that does this.  How often does our “take our needs to the Lord” prayer, turn out to be a list of what we expect God to do and how we expect Him to accomplish it!  It can be seen in Scripture and I've certainly seen it in my life: God rarely approaches a problem the way we would expect.  

Where in the Bible does it say that God exists to do our bidding?

We are quick to refer to Jesus as “Lord” or “King of Kings”, but we are slow to recognize what those terms make us.  To be our God's child, be must be servants and slaves.  A slave can't rule his own life, he must surrender to the master.  While we like the idea of having a mighty God on our side, we don't get excited about leading a life that is directed by anybody else.

In the end, Naaman looked at his need and decided that it was worthwhile to surrender his pride and do as he was told.  Each of us needs to look at our need for the Lord.  While we may not know it, or acknowledge it, we all desperately need the Lord.  Our lives without Jesus are terribly empty when we are without His peace, joy, contentment, hope and strength.  He loves to give to us, but it is on His terms and in His way.  This was the issue that almost caused Naaman to miss out on his healing.

Surrendering control over to God is the hardest thing that a Christian will ever do.  It would be hard enough if it was something that only had to be done once, but it is ongoing.  Throughout a Christian's life, each and every day is met with decisions of doing what self wants or doing what God wants.  Self doesn't give up control willingly.  Living the Christian life is like living in the middle of a feud between members of your family – you are continually being pulled one way or another.

Sometimes it feel like we are being pulled, beyond our control, to do the bidding of self.  This situation is always the result of us buying into some sort of deception about God's role.  We have to continually remember:

  • God is in control (Psalm 146:10)
  • With His help, we can do anything (Philippians 4:13)
  • He promises that our temptation will never be too much (1 Corinthians 10:13)
  • What He wants is best (John 3:16:17)

We desperately need to Lord.  However, becoming His child requires a cost, we have to allow Him control.  As long as we maintain control over our lives, we aren't His.  After all, how can we say that we believe He is God, while we go on treating Him like He is just a man.

Surrender, submit, give up or be broken.  Whatever, you call it, God requires that we view Him as our King and master.  Without making Him king, we are just going through the motions.

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Lexington, Ky