25. Naaman and his pride
Props: Toys for the six characters (Kings of Syria and Israel, Naaman, Elisha, maid and servant), two crowns, shoe box house for Elisha, talcum powder, small box of money.
Bible passage: 2 Ki 5:1 – 14
Hello children. Our talk today is about pride. This is like when someone stands up and boasts, “I am the greatest person in the world. Look at me!” If someone is not proud, we say that they are humble.
Now, I want to tell you a Bible story today. It is from the Old Testament, so it may be new to you. I want you to imagine I am sitting on the border between the countries of Syria and Israel. Syria is on my left, and Israel on my right. And here is the king of Syria. You can tell he is the king because of the crown on his head. And here is the king of Israel, with his crown. Actually, these kings don't like each other; you might say they can't bear one another!
Now the king of Syria has a large army, and the commander of this army is Naaman. He’s a very good commander, and as well he is happy, generous and kind, and everyone loves him. But Naaman has one bad problem: he suffers from the disease of leprosy. In those days leprosy was incurable, and people died of it. You could tell if a person had leprosy because he would have white blotches on his skin. I have here some leprosy powder ... there, you see Naaman has quite a bad case of leprosy. Now of course Naaman wants to be healed from this bad disease. There is in his household a little maid – we don't know her name. She originally came from Israel, and she says to Naaman: “Master, in Israel there is a prophet, and his God is able to heal people from their leprosy.”
This sounds good to Naaman, so he goes and tells his king. The king agrees to write a letter to the king of Israel asking for his help, and Naaman sets off to see the king of Israel with some of his servants, the letter, and a box of silver and gold.
When the king of Israel reads the letter, he is quite upset. “What is the king of Syria asking now?” he cries. “I can’t heal this man from his leprosy! The king of Syria is just trying to pick a fight with me! He’s looking to start a war!” And the king begins to tear his clothes. (I’m not sure why kings used to tear their clothes in the old days!) Naaman backs away at all this carry-on, but Elisha hears the sound of tearing clothes and comes to see what is the matter. When the king tells him, he says, “Don’t worry, your Majesty, I’ll take care of it.” So Elisha goes home and shuts himself inside. The king calls Naaman, and tells him to go off to where Elisha lives.
So Naaman arrives at Elisha’s house, but Elisha doesn’t come out. Instead he sends out his servant, who goes to Naaman and tells him that he will be cured of his leprosy if he bathes seven times in the nearby river Jordan.
At this point, Naaman loses it completely. “I’m one of the most important people in the whole of Syria, and this prophet doesn’t even come out to see me! I expected him to come out and wave his hands over me, and call on his God to heal me. Instead he sends out this miserable servant who tells me to bathe in this dirty old river! We have far better rivers in Syria!” And Naaman storms off in a huff.
Now children, which do you think is better: for Naaman in his pride to storm off like this, or for him to swallow his pride and bathe in the Jordan? What would you do? Yes, I think if he really wanted to be rid of his leprosy, he might well bathe in the Jordan. Fortunately, his servants had more sense. “If the prophet had asked you to do some hard task, wouldn’t you have done it?” they asked. “Then why not do this very simple thing?” So Naaman thought about, and then bathed in the Jordan as Elisha had said. And his leprosy was completely washed away. [Give Naaman a brush off!]
So boys and girls, the lesson is: don’t be proud, but follow the example of Jesus, and be prepared to do some of the hard things that life offers.
Now, there is just one more thing. There is another very interesting part to this story, which has to do with Elisha’s servant, Gehazi. I’m not going to tell you what it is, but you might ask your Mum or Dad to read you 2 Kings, chapter 5. Can you remember that?