When the Lord healed the Syrian, Naaman, through the instrumentality of the prophet Elisha, Naaman urged the prophet to accept a present which he refused.
The prophet said,
“As the Lord lives, whom I serve, I will receive none” (2 King 5:16).
However, Gehazi, Elisha’s servant was of a different heart. The Bible says,
“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 alighted 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; I pray, give them a talent of silver and two festal garments.’ ” 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 festal garments, and laid them upon 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 I not go with you in spirit 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, menservants and maidservants? Therefore the leprosy of Naaman shall cleave to you, and to your descendants for ever.’ So he went out from his presence a leper, as white as snow” (2 Kings 5:19b-27).
Gehazi was covetous. He followed Naaman and lied using religious language. He said, “As the Lord lives, I will run after him.” He further invented a story about the arrival of two young men of the sons of the prophets. Then he told Naaman, “Pray, give them a talent of silver and two festal garments.” Gehazi thus lied. He painted a picture of the prophet that was not true and contradicted the testimony which Elisha had borne before Naaman, viz, that he was not serving for gain.
Having lied to Naaman, he went on to lie to the prophet. He was asked, “Where have you been, Gehazi?” That was the moment when he ought to have realized that he had been caught. That is the moment when he ought to have confessed his sin to Elisha. He ought to have fallen before him and cried out, “My master, my heart is wrong. I am covetous. I coveted the Syrian’s silver and his garments. I followed him and I lied about you and got two talents of silver and two festal garments. They are right now in my house. Have mercy on me. Plead with God that my heart may be changed. My master, forgive me and pray that the Lord should forgive me.” Had he done this, things might have been different. However, he did not do that. He had deliberately chosen the pathway of deceit and covetousness and he meant to tread it to the end. He, therefore, told the prophet, “Your servant went nowhere.” By that further lie, he confirmed his doom and it came immediately.
The prophet’s words to Gehazi are pregnant with meaning,
“Did I not go with you in spirit 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, menservants and maidservants?” (2 Kings 5:26).
Money, garments, olive orchard, vineyards, sheep, oxen, maidservants and menservants are issues over which the covetousness that is in the world seems to manifest itself. There are not many who are not practising falsehood in one way or the other in order to gain money or clothes or property in one way or the other. I have seen people, believers, who were otherwise living consistent lives fall down and worship money. The ridiculous thing about it is that some of these were prepared to lose their places in the heart of God and in heaven for trivial sums of money. I have found that some sold their consciences for very small sums of money!
How is it like with you? Where in your life are the roots of covetousness? Will you let the Holy Spirit deal with it at once? Are you covering your covetousness through the use of some religious words? Are you attempting to ease your conscience by saying that you are only doing what others have done? Will you repent today and return your ill-gotten wealth?
Gehazi thought that no one saw him. How mistaken he was! The prophet went with him in spirit and saw all that happened. What you think is hidden from man may not be quite so hidden; besides, nothing can be hidden from God. The Psalmist confessed,
“Whither shall I go from thy Spirit? Or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend to heaven, thou art there! If I make my bed in Sheol, thou art there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there thy hand shall lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me. If I say, ‘Let only darkness cover me, and the light about me be night,’ even the darkness is not dark to thee, the night is bright as the day; for darkness is as light with thee” (Psalm 139:7-12).
One thing that encourages people to continue in falsehood and lying is the thought that no one is seeing them. It is obvious that even when the door is shut and locked, even when the documents are destroyed; even when it was whispered to one person only, and so forth, the Lord has full knowledge. Even if the deceit or falsehood was only carried out in thought, it is all there before the Lord. Because He sees all, all sons of men ought to stop doing everything that they do not want to do in His presence.
Gehazi, in coveting and lying, did not calculate what reward his sin would bring to him. It brought him leprosy. It also brought leprosy on his descendants for ever. The punishment came into effect immediately and it was to be the perpetual lot of his descendants. Before you practise the next act of falsehood, remember that God is seeing you and that His judgment could be immediate.
Gehazi was a servant of the great prophet. He saw mighty acts of God. He lived close to a man who was holy. He tasted the power of the age to come and yet he practised falsehood. Other liars were not treated so harshly, but he was. All who are entrusted with spiritual position, honour, responsibility, a knowledge of God and the like, should beware. God will judge them with greater severity. The Lord Jesus said,
“Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. But it shall be more tolerable in the judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you. And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You shall be brought down to Hades” (Luke 10:13-15).