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When someone gives you a gift, just accept it and say, “Thank you.” It’s really not a difficult concept. But when receiving from God, I still tend to struggle with this. I feel as though I need to clean up my own mess and earn God’s help. That is the definition of religion, people trying to impress God with what they do and to make themselves worthy of God’s notice.
Well if there’s one thing I’ve learned it’s this; God already loves you as much as He’s ever going to. Do you know why that is? Because He already loves you completely and unconditionally. What you do or not do doesn’t change the love He has for you. He’s a good God who wants to bless people and enjoys giving good gifts.
The story that kept popping up to me was the story of God giving Naaman a gift. It’s found in II Kings 5. Naaman was a great Aramean warrior, who was beloved by his king, and also happened to also to be a leper. Naaman’s wife had a maid from Israel, who told Naaman that she knew of a prophet who could heal him. So Naaman went to Elisha’s house. Here’s the story beginning in verse 9 and going through verse 16.
“So Naaman went with his horses and chariots and waited at the door of Elisha’s house. But Elisha sent a messenger out to him with this message: “Go and wash yourself seven times in the Jordan River. Then your skin will be restored, and you will be healed of your leprosy.”
But Naaman became angry and stalked away. “I thought he would certainly come out to meet me!” he said. “I expected him to wave his hand over the leprosy and call on the name of the Lord his God and heal me! Aren’t the rivers of Damascus, the Abana and the Pharpar, better than any of the rivers of Israel? Why shouldn’t I wash in them and be healed?” So Naaman turned and went away in a rage.
But his officers tried to reason with him and said, “Sir, if the prophet had told you to do something very difficult, wouldn’t you have done it? So you should certainly obey him when he says simply, ‘Go and wash and be cured!’” So Naaman went down to the Jordan River and dipped himself seven times, as the man of God had instructed him. And his skin became as healthy as the skin of a young child, and he was healed!
Then Naaman and his entire party went back to find the man of God. They stood before him, and Naaman said, “Now I know that there is no God in all the world except in Israel. So please accept a gift from your servant.”
But Elisha replied, “As surely as the Lord lives, whom I serve, I will not accept any gifts.” And though Naaman urged him to take the gift, Elisha refused.”
Naaman’s pride said, “That’s it??? There must be more than simply bathing in a dirty river? This can’t be right. Shouldn’t there be some sort of ritual or cost involved.” But there wasn’t. God simply required Naaman to believe, then He healed him. Naaman was the leader of the army that had just defeated his people in battle. Yet still God loved him. Yet God healed him without expecting anything in return. That’s the goodness and giving nature of God.
This just blows my mind.