So Naaman came with his horses and chariots and 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, and you shall be clean.” But Naaman was angry and went away, saying, “Behold, I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call upon the name of the Lord his God, and wave his hand over the place and cure the leper. Are not 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 went away in a rage. But his servants came near and said to him, “My father, it is a great word the prophet has spoken to you; will you not do it? Has he actually said to you, ‘Wash, and be clean’?” So he went down and dipped himself seven times in the Jordan, according to the word of the man of God, and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean. II Kings 5:9-14 ESV
But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. Titus 3:4-7 ESV
Little children who are about two or three years old often want to do everything by themselves. If Moms or Dads try to help them put on their coats or shoes, they’ll often say, “Me do it!” Sometimes parents let their children do things for themselves, and often it doesn’t go very well the first few times. Little children might put their shoes on the wrong feet, or put their pants on backwards. If they try to help in the kitchen or in the garage, they might make a big mess. Older children are smart if they are willing to let people help them and show them the right way to do things. Smart kids know that it’s silly to keep on acting like a little kid and think they know how to do everything already. They realize that they need to keep learning because there are many things they don’t know yet.
Naaman was foolish when Elisha told him what he needed to do to be healed of his leprosy. He had come all the way to the land of Israel to be healed, but when Elisha gave him the message to wash himself seven times in the Jordan River, he got angry! He thought he knew better than Elisha how he could be healed. He wanted Elisha to put on a show for him by waving his hands and praying loudly, and he thought that washing in the Jordan River was a stupid idea. He had better rivers in his own country, he thought! Since Elisha wouldn’t do things his way, he almost left the country without getting healed. But his servants were wiser than he was, and they talked him into giving the Jordan River a try. So he went and washed himself seven times, and as soon as he did that, he was healed!
Sometimes we are like Naaman. We want to work things out our own way instead of letting God work things out his way. When we do that, we often make quite a mess out of things! The worst way we can make a mess is when we don’t want God to save us in the way he’s chosen. He sent Jesus to die on the cross for us so that all our sins could be forgiven. He’s given us baptism to wash away our sins and to make what Jesus did for us our own. Some people want to pay for their own sins and earn God’s love by their good behavior. That’s like Naaman walking away from the healing God had for him. God sends us his Holy Spirit to help us trust him to save us through Jesus.
Dear Heavenly Father, help us to trust you to work things out for us in the best way, and especially to always trust the forgiveness Jesus won for us. In His Name, Amen.