Greed and Punishment


But when Naaman had gone from him a short distance, Gehazi, the servant of Elisha the man of God, said, “See, my master has spared this Naaman the Syrian, in not accepting from his hand what he brought. As the Lord lives, I will run after him and get something from him.” So Gehazi followed Naaman. And when Naaman saw someone running after him, he got down from the chariot to meet him and said, “Is all well?” And he said, “All is well. My master has sent me to say, ‘There have just now come to me from the hill country of Ephraim two young men of the sons of the prophets. Please give them a talent of silver and two changes of clothing.’” And Naaman said, “Be pleased to accept two talents.” And he urged him and tied up two talents of silver in two bags, with two changes of clothing, and laid them on two of his servants. And they carried them before Gehazi. And when he came to the hill, he took them from their hand and put them in the house, and he sent the men away, and they departed. He went in and stood before his master, and Elisha said to him, “Where have you been, Gehazi?” And he said, “Your servant went nowhere.” But he said to him, “Did not my heart go when the man turned from his chariot to meet you? Was it a time to accept money and garments, olive orchards and vineyards, sheep and oxen, male servants and female servants? Therefore the leprosy of Naaman shall cling to you and to your descendants forever.” So he went out from his presence a leper, like snow. II Kings 19b-27 ESV

Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:25b-28 ESV


Anansi the spider was a tricky creature, and there are many stories about him from West Africa. One day he and his wife were invited to his wife’s parents’ house for dinner. Anansi wore a very tall hat because he thought it made him look important. At the dinner he greedily ate all kinds of the good food his mother-in-law had made for him, but he was disappointed that his favorite food of all, beans, wasn’t served. Finally he got up from the table and went into the kitchen, and there was a big pot of beans his mother-in-law had forgotten to serve. Anansi filled a satchel with the hot beans and hid them under his hat, then he went back to join the guests at dinner. His father-in-law started talking about what a fine son-in-law he was. He kept talking and talking, while Anansi wanted to get away from the meal because the satchel of beans was so hot on his head! Finally they got so hot he couldn’t stand it and lifted his hat a little, and the beans spilled all over him. His father-in-law and all the guests shouted that he was a thief, and he and his wife left the party very embarrassed. Ever since that day Anansi and his children have had  bald heads as a punishment for greed.

Gehazi was as greedy as Anansi. When Elisha wouldn’t let Naaman give him any reward for healing him of his leprosy, Gehazi thought of a plan. He would chase after Naaman and pretend that Elisha had a sudden need for some of the money and clothes Naaman had offered him, because a couple of the sons of the prophets had come to visit him. Naaman was happy to give him something, but it was sad because he probably thought that Elisha had changed his mind and wanted a reward. Elisha had wanted to show Naaman that the God of Israel is good and gracious, and that he didn’t serve the Lord for the rewards he could get. Gehazi hid the money and clothes in his own house and went back to Elisha. But Elisha knew exactly what he had done, and he told Gehazi that he and his descendants would always have Naaman’s leprosy.

God is good and gracious to us, and gives us many blessings every day. The best blessing he has ever given us is Jesus, our Savior. Jesus didn’t come into the world to be a powerful and rich king. He wasn’t greedy, but instead he came to serve. Jesus served us by going to the cross and dying for us there. Because of what Jesus did, we are God’s children now and always. He sends us his Holy Spirit to make us more like him. We aren’t always wishing for and wanting more, but we are happy because God has given us so much. God helps us serve others the way Jesus did without looking for any reward. We already have God’s love, and that’s better than any reward we could get!


Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for all the blessings you give us. Help us to be willing to help and share with others without wanting a reward. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.