If we want to be successful, we are wise to study and develop the traits and qualities of those that are successful. Similarly, it is also prudent to study and avoid the traits and qualities of those that fail. No study on success is complete without studying Jesus Christ for He was the most successful man that ever lived – as if the feat of remaining sinless alone was not enough of a titanic accomplishment, He successfully achieved His mission of saving humanity after approximately three years of ministry! Therefore, since this Man tells us to care for another (see John 13:34 – 35), we are prudent to follow in His footsteps and teaching and do so. If we obey this commandment, we are blessed for our obedience. But if we choose to disregard this teaching, we do so at our own peril. While the bible contains many references to love and sowing, I find that the obscure story of Naaman and Gehazi highlights how critical to success having a caring (loving) heart and attitude towards people is.
Naaman was a leper (see 2 Kings 5:1)! In the Old Testament days, he should have been an outcast who was shunned by society. Yet, when we look at his resume, we find that he was a mighty man of valor (boldness in the face of great danger) and he was a commander of a nation’s army. Not too shabby! Upon looking at his references, we find that he was described as a great and honorable man by a king! Okay, so the man was successful. But how did Naaman ever get the opportunity to attain such an esteemed position? While your guess is as good as mine for the bible does not explicitly say, what we can say is that his caring attitude towards people contributed to his success. Let’s explore further.
“Then she said to her mistress, “If only my master were with the prophet who is in Samaria! For he would heal him of his leprosy”” – 2 Kings 5:3
Upon first glance, it is quite baffling that a girl who was whisked away against her will from her friends, family, and society during a raid and forced to serve Naaman’s wife would volunteer the information about Elisha’s pedigree to her kidnapper. Thinking about it, the only plausible explanation is that she liked Naaman and so was moved with compassion for him. If Naaman had treated her badly, she would not have been so forthcoming with her disease curing information. And without the servant girl’s information, Naaman may never have been cured!
“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’?”” – 2 Kings 5:13
Though the servants approached Naaman with reverence, respect, and diffusive language (hence the use of my father) for Naaman was livid (see 2 Kings 5:11 – 12), the key point is that they were bold to speak. Why? It is because they knew what kind of a man he was and cared for him, otherwise they would not have dared for they were potentially risking their position or life in speaking out.For his part, Naaman was wise to keep himself approachable despite his position for he understood he did not know everything and could make mistakes. And because he kept himself approachable to his subordinates and willing to receive from them, his servants were able to keep him from making a huge mistake when he had allowed his pride to swell-up. Again, if Naaman was an ogre, his servants would probably not have approached him and he would have missed out on his healing.
Gehazi on the other hand was a fellow that did not benefit from the loving care of his servants. If his servants truly cared for him, they would have told him he was about to make a mistake when he said –
““look, my master has spared Naaman this Syrian, while not receiving from his hands what he brought; but as the LORD lives, I will run after him and take something from him.”” – 2 Kings 5:20
Perhaps they did not say a thing because they knew it was pointless speaking. Perhaps they knew he would not heed their advice. Perhaps he had set himself up as unapproachable.
If we really look at it, Naaman and Gehazi were in similar positions. Both of them were in a position of authority (having servants) and could exert influence (Gehazi as Elisha’s student). Furthermore, both of them were about to make big mistakes – Naaman due to his pride, and Gehazi because of greed. The difference is that Naaman’s servants were friend and neighbor to him while Gehazi’s servants were not. Because Gehazi’s servants were not his friends, both he and his entire household were struck with leprosy forever (see 2 Kings 5:27)!
Likewise, no matter how powerful we are in the Lord, we need the help of others to keep us from making mistakes. We increase the chances of others helping us significantly when we swallow our pride, sow seeds of love, and open up our hearts to receive.
Note: Gehazi was supposedly the man of God and Naaman the heathen. Yet Naaman was cured of his leprosy and believed while Gehazi who was a believer became leprous. It just goes to show that we will reap what we sow; therefore we should sow love (care).
Food for Thought: When we care about people, we care about ourselves