(These are sermon notes I used in a sermon I preached last Sunday based on 2 Kings 5:1-14 which is the story of Namaan who was healed of leprosy by reluctantly dipping in the Jordan River seven times. The sermon was entitled “Healing Through Obedience”)
Roger Staubach who led the Dallas Cowboys to the World Championship in ’71 admitted that his position as a quarterback who didn’t call his own signals was a source of trial for him. Coach Landry sent in every play. He told Roger when to pass, when to run and only in emergency situations could he change the play (and he had better be right!). Even though Roger considered coach Landry to have a “genius mind” when it came to football strategy, pride said that he should be able to run his own team.
Roger later said, “I faced up to the issue of obedience. Once I learned to obey there was harmony, fulfillment, and victory.”
It is human nature to believe that we know better than someone else—even if that Person is God. And even when we have clear instructions from Scripture about what we need to do, we often wait and put off obedience, instead of acting immediately.
Thomas a Kempis said, “Instant obedience is the only kind of obedience there is; delayed obedience is disobedience. Whoever strives to withdraw from obedience, withdraws from Grace.”
Obedience that not only trusts God, but is followed up by action, is the focal point of our Scripture lesson today. Namaan, who was not an Israelite, needed healing. He was so desperately in need of healing that he was willing to listen to an Israelite slave girl, and travel great distances in hopes to find the healing he needed. But even with such a great desire for healing, he still struggled with his own pride. There are three things our story today offers us.
1. Many times we look for healing in the wrong places. When Namaan was informed about the prophet in Samaria, he went to his King who sent him to the unnamed King of Israel. The King of Israel was not in any position to offer Namaan the healing he sought. In fact, he trembled and tore his clothes (a sign of mourning) because he knew he did not have the power of God to offer healing. In order for Namaan to find healing, he had to look in the right place.
Our world is full of spiritual leprosy. We have sores, scars and wounds from the sins of others and sins we’ve committed ourselves. And just like Namaan, we are looking to a king when we should be looking for a prophet. We try to find comfort in drugs and chemicals, overindulging in our vocations or other ventures, seeking ungodly relationships, we seek healing through the internet, or just being content to watch television. Many of us look for the government to deliver us from our circumstances. God is the only one who can heal our wounds, yet we continually look for comfort in the wrong places.
2. Faith is often simple, but not easy or convenient. In our text, Namaan knew exactly what needed to be done to see his life restored. He was willing to travel great distances, visit with the right dignitaries, and when it mattered most, he received a very specific set of instructions. Because of his pride, he almost missed the chance at healing because it wasn’t convenient enough.
We live in a society where everything is instant. Instant coffee, instant breakfast, drive-thru food, drive-thru banking, and we all carry the internet around in our pockets. Some days it seems the last thing we want to do is get out of the car to go inside the store and pay for a gallon of milk. But when it comes to our faith, faith is something that requires us to be in the slow lane. There is no such thing as instant faith. Faith requires that we get out of the car, go inside, and sit for a while, waiting on our Server to give us what he knows we need.
3. True healing, of any kind, requires obedience on our part. There was no question whether or not God had the power to heal Namaan. But in order for Namaan to be healed he had to follow the instructions of the prophet. God could have healed Namaan when he went to see the King of Israel. He could have healed him when he went to see Elijah. But that would have been too easy. In order for Namaan to be healed, he had to be obedient to God’s instructions.
Not only, must we allow God to be the provider of our healing, but we also must be willing to do what he asks of us. Many times this means eliminating one or several vices in which we partake. But this also can mean doing something that requires even more effort on our part—asking for or giving forgiveness. I’ve come to learn that forgiveness is more for the one giving it than the one receiving it. And many times we know as believers what we need to do to bring peace to ourselves. We know we need to forgive those who have wronged us. We need to give our hurts and grievances to God. But like Namaan, we are above dipping in the dirty waters of the Jordan. That is beneath us. We do not want healing, we want vindication. So we continue to find other unsuccessful ways to receive God’s healing.
The only thing we know about Namaan is that his physical condition was healed. But we know that God offers spiritual healing as well through his son Jesus Christ.
What is the hurt you need God to heal? What is the instruction God has given you to receive that healing? Is there a habit to kick? A relationship to mend? Forgiveness to be given? Maybe it’s time to quit doing your own thing and let Jesus lead.