The Healing of Naaman: From Pride to Faith

“It can’t be that easy! All you have to do is believe?” This sentiment is expressed by many an unbeliever regarding the healing power of Jesus to forgive our sins. Pride is arguably the greatest obstacle to belief and spiritual healing. In contrast, humility is one key that unlocks the door to belief – “Humble yourself in the sight of the Lord and He will lift you up” (James 4:10).

The Aramean general Naaman was a man filled with pride. When afflicted by an incurable malady, leprosy, it was only when he humbled himself did he experience healing.

His is a great example of one man’s journey from pride to faith. And in Naaman, there are evangelistic lessons for you and me.

A Person of Power and Prestige 

Now Naaman, commander of the army of the king of Syria, was a great and honorable man in the eyes of his master, because by him the Lord had given victory to Syria” (2 Kings 5:1a).

Naaman was second in command to the King of Aram, a decorated war hero. In fact, it was the Lord who had given him victory. Whether Naaman had any understanding of this reality, the scripture doesn’t tell us. 

As believers, we all struggle at times with self-sufficiency, yet we understand our sufficiency ought be found in the Lord, where His power can manifest in and through our life and witness:

And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work [including the work of evangelism].” – 2 Corinthians 9:8

I desire to walk in the power of the Spirit, not in the flesh (Galatians 5:17), for my witness will be most effective when I do.

In contrast, every unbeliever is self-sufficient, because they’re not trusting in the sufficiency of God. And whether they understand or even care, God is the author of life and the giver of all good things, and that every breath they take is a gift from Him (Ecclesiastes 3:13James 1:17). 

Commanders of armies, like Naaman, often will feel, well, in command. But now he will be thrown a curve ball that will rock his world and render him helpless.

A Chink in His Armor

“He was also a mighty man of valor…but a leper” (2 Kings 5:1b).

Leprosy is a picture of sin and man’s spiritual condition apart from spiritual healing of God’s salvation found in Jesus. In biblical times, leprosy caused isolation from society to some degree and there was no human cure. In the similar fashion, sin separates and isolates us spiritually from God and there is no cure apart from the Lord Himself (Isaiah 59:2).

Naaman, despite all of his accomplishments, position, and prestige, was a person afflicted by an incurable condition, at least humanly speaking. He was acutely aware of his physical malady.

In contrast, people today often minimize, ignore or deny their spiritual malady called sin, in spite of the evidence of their depravity, the plight of all human beings. The late British journalist Malcolm Muggeridge put it well, noting:

“The depravity of man is at once the most empirically verifiable reality
but at the same time the most intellectually resisted fact.”

Naaman recognized his malady and need for healing. We may need to be praying God would reveal to people in our sphere of influence their sinfulness and need for forgiveness. Because before people can receive the good news of God’s salvation, they first need to affirm and confess the bad news of their sinful and hopeless condition apart from Jesus. In short, we should pray they would see their need for a Savior.

The Initial Rejection of God’s Man and God’s Message

Then Naaman went with his horses and chariot, and he 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 to you, and you shall be clean.” But Naaman became furious, and went away and said, “Indeed, I said to myself, ‘He will surely come out to me, and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, and wave his hand over the place, and heal the leprosy.’ Are not the Abanah and the 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 went away in a rage” (2 Kings 5:9-12). 

Naaman left in a huff after Elisha shared the simple means of healing. You see, Naaman pridefully had his own idea of how he should be healed. God’s means of healing in this narrative is the only way!  

Spiritually, there are only two ways of healing or roads to heaven, nirvana, paradise. Man’s means of forgiveness is “do” and is insufficient, while God’s means of forgiveness in Christ is “believe” and is sufficient. (See also John 3:16, John 14:6, John 20:31, Acts 4:12) In fact you will find the word believe 98 times in the gospel of John. 

Can it really be that simple, believe? Yes!

If you’re sharing of the gospel is rejected initially or has been rejected continually by those with whom you’ve shared, do not be discouraged. Research shows it typically takes several exposures to a clear gospel witness before someone puts their trust in Christ. In the meantime, continually entrust that person or those people to the Lord.  

From Pride to Humility and Healing

And his servants came near and spoke to him, and said, “My father, if the prophet had told you to do something great, would you not have done it? How much more then, when he says to you, ‘Wash, and be clean’?” So he went down and dipped seven times in the Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God; and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean” (2 Kings 5:13-14).

God used a humble servant to again share the message of healing with Naaman. Ultimately, he takes heed, humbles himself, and in faith, washes and is healed.

People are called to believe in Jesus in order to be spiritually healed: “if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9).  

Just as the “Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and give His life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45), you and I are called to serve others by sharing the gospel, the one message that saves.

As we think about those in our lives who need Christ, may we remember our journey to faith – how God humbled and healed us. May we be patient and longsuffering in our witness, praying that God would deliver them out of pride and into a place of humility, belief and spiritual healing that can only be found through in Jesus! Amen.

“Humble yourself in the sight of the Lord and He will lift you up.” – James 4:10

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