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Jun 24, 2015, 10:47 AM | Article By: Galandou Gorre-Ndiaye

A Syrian army general named Naaman, who lived in the days of prophet Elisah, was considered a hero because of his great exploits and military victories. However, in spite of his brilliant career, he had a major handicap – he was a leper. Leprosy was a killer disease in those days and though his ailment must not have been that pronounced for him to have been quarantined, it had started becoming an embarrassment.

During one of his attacks on Israel, Naaman, had returned with a slave girl to serve as a helper to his spouse. One day, this servant girl told her mistress: “If only my master would see the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy.” (2 Kings 5:3) He heeded this advice and embarked on arrangements for a journey to Israel. Ironically, his hope was pinned on receiving help from Israel – the nation he had conquered.

When Naaman and his entourage got to Israel and called on the prophet, he was expecting a reception befitting his rank – that of a general. However, the prophet did not come out to meet him, he only sent a messenger saying: “Go wash yourself seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will be restored and you will be cleansed.” (2 Kings 5:10) This was upsetting for Naaman. He remarked: “I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy.” (2 Kings 5:11) He was enraged by the prophet’s choice of a dirty river over other more reputable and cleaner ones. So he set off on his deception course, heading home.

Despite his fit of temper, Naaman’s servants counselled him that if the prophet had asked him to perform a great feat he would not have hesitated. All the prophet had asked, was for him to deep seven times in the river and be cleansed. It then dawned on him that he had displayed foolish pride. When he finally dipped himself in the river, “his flesh was restored and became clean like that of a young boy.” (2 Kings 5:14) He could not believe his eyes.

Like most supposedly lofty men, pride gets in the way of common sense. To all those who think highly of themselves, Naaman’s story serves as a lesson. We must endeavour to humble ourselves before God and human beings; humility is a virtue. At one point Naaman lost sight of the raison d’être for undertaking the trip all the way from Syria to Israel. Nothing seemed to matter but how he would look in the eyes of others. Much as he was ready to leave without achieving his purpose – healing, he would have returned with no apparent change, still in the state he had left home.

Naaman’s status is not any different from ours. We are all suffering from one type of leprosy or another; some crippling societal ill that is putting us in very bad shape vis-à-vis our peers, siblings and colleagues. These are the ugly aspects of our lives that we hardly can put up with because they pull us down. There is no need trying to cover them up as they are bound to stand out one day like a sore thumb. So we must deal with them now. If Naaman had not heeded the young maid servant’s advice, he would have lingered in limbo awaiting a cure, and death would have been the outcome.

We are all in desperate need of help to remedy critical situations in our lives. One thing is clear, however successful we may be in life, we definitely need a Saviour because there are things we can never achieve on our own. Some things are beyond our reach and it is only by the grace of God that we can overcome them.

Self-reliance and pride are a two-pronged stumbling block that often gets in the way of our spiritual maturity, impeding our progress.They are dead-end streets. But for the slave girl, Naaman would have searched for a remedy and would never have found one. We are all searching wildly for the truth. That truth resides in the revealed word of God through his Son, Jesus Christ.

Humankind’s intelligence has not enabled it to find a remedy to death in order to live forever – this life is not our own in the first instance.Humanity would have been lost without God, the God Jehovah. The multiple man-made gods meant to satisfy our personal need for the real God has never been a worthy substitute. “And there is no God apart from me, a righteous God and a Saviour; there is none but me.” (Isaiah 45:21b)

When we examine our lives closely we realise we have need of a God. “I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.” (Isaiah 43:25) We need to get our hearts right with God. For this we have to seek him while he may be found. Our own righteousness will take us nowhere.

The Bible teaches that our leprous state is pandemic. “… for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God...” There is nothing we can do to improve our status. We all stand condemned before God. No amount of good deeds can free us from our sin nature. We need Jesus Christ, the One whom God assigned to die in our stead to pay the price of sin. Naaman was worried about his status, God directed him through the slave girl in his household to the prophet and he was healed free of charge. He had thought for a moment he could have bought it with gifts.

Our salvation is free. God has given it to us free of charge. “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Romans 10:13