My thoughts (Carla Peck):
In today’s scripture, Gehazi fabricates a lie and after Naaman is out of Elisha’s sight, puts the lie into action. Gehazi tells Naaman that Elisha sent him to ask for silver and clothing, which Elisha had actually refused to accept.
Was Gehazi’s intent to tell the lie for the benefit of Elisha, to get custody of payment that Gehazi believed was due to Elisha in exchange for the healing of leprosy? Or, instead, would Gehazi choose to use the situation to make a profit for himself? Naaman was willing to pay for what he had received and was so grateful he gave Gehazi more than he requested. Instead of turning the silver and clothing over to Elisha, Gehazi hides these items and keeps them for himself. Elisha confronts Gehazi about his lie, Gehazi denies the lie, and then Elisha inflicts Gehazi with the leprosy that had once been Naaman’s.
A prank that I pulled in my youth still haunts me to this day. It was the day of the Indy 500 race and I was standing in the parking lot of a nearby retail shop speaking with a friend. Suddenly a car pulled up and the driver asked us how much it cost to park in this lot. In that instance, the mischievous part of me overruled the righteous part and I said, “Twenty dollars.” The person handed me a $20 bill without blinking an eye, no questions asked. The mischievous part of me thought, “That was easy, I should have said $30.” Then the physical symptoms of nausea and nervousness began because of the shame I felt and the fear of getting caught. While I was not inflicted with leprosy, in exchange for $20, I received a heavy heart and regret. A life lesson learned.
Where does a pattern of telling lies or behaving deceitfully start, and where does it stop? Does it matter if we tell a lie for the benefit of ourselves? Does it make a difference if we tell a lie, or behave deceitfully, for the benefit of another? Gehazi apparently got to keep the silver and clothes he had requested, but he also received more than he bargained for. He exchanged good physical health for the deadly disease of leprosy. He exchanged a future working for the prophet of God for no future at all.
Thought for the day: God, I know that I am responsible for my actions. Whenever I feel the need to lie or behave deceitfully, for whatever reason, I pray that I will pause to consider the path that Jesus would choose for me. Amen.
We encourage you to include a time of prayer with this reading. If you need a place to get started, consider the guidelines on the How to Pray page.