The Unmasking Of A Wicked Heart
The Unmasking Of A Wicked Heart
2 Kings 5: 25-26a
"But he went in, and stood before his master.
And Elisha said unto him, 'Whence comest thou, Gehazi?'
And he said, 'Thy servant went no whether.'
And he said unto him, 'Went not my heart with thee, when the man turned from his chariot to meet thee?"
The significant points of the story of Namaan's captain of the host of Syria are clear.
Because of the witness of a little Jewish slave girl, Namaan had come all the way to Israel seeking
a cure for his leprosy.
First, he went to the king of Israel, and then, by invitation, to the prophet Elisha.
Elisha's simple directions were, "Go and wash in the Jordan seven times,
and thy flesh shall come again to thee, and thou shalt be clean." (Verse 10)
At first Namaan was infuriated, but at the urging of his subordinates, he complied and was healed.
He returned in deep gratitude to the prophet and urged him to receive a gift.
Elisha refused and sent him away in peace.
Up to this point the story is wonderful.
But this is not fiction; this is inspired writing, and it comes to a tragic conclusion.
History turns on two words: "But Gehazi..." (verse 20a)
What about Gehazi?
He was the servant of Elisha.
He had been a witness to both appearances of the Syrian general before his master's house
and of his master's dealings with him.
His view of things did not agree with his master's.
His greedy soul recoiled at his master's refusal of any compensation for the miracle.
So he went out on his own and the result was tragic.
Gehazi's character did not suddenly collapse.
The process of dissolution had been going on for sometime.
This act of betrayal was simply last straw.
When the Shunamite woman came to Elisha in great stress when her little son died,
Gehazi was sent on ahead to greet her with the question, "Is it well with thee,
is it well with thy husband, and is it well with the child?"
Her answer was, "It is well." (4:26)
The purity of her own heart recognized the treachery of Gehazi's, and she would not unburden her grief to him.
Gehazi was sent to lay Elisha's staff upon the body of the dead child, but he had to report,
"The child is not awakened." (Verse 31b)
Unless there is repentance, God does not respond to a wicked heart.
The skill with which Gehazi planned and carried out his fleecing of the grateful-hearted Namaan
showed that he was practiced in treachery and skilled in falsehood.
This act of wickedness, like Judas' betrayal of his Master, was just the last straw before
the wickedness of his heart was unmasked.
Gehazi's life was a living contradiction.
The exterior of his life gave the lie to what he really was inside.
Outward appearances and inward reality did not agree.
Gehazi's wickedness is demonstrated by his attitudes.
- Outwardly, he was the servant of Elisha, the prophet; inwardly, he was the servant of the devil.
- Outwardly, he was one with his master, his helper and constant companion;
inwardly, he was far from his master in spirit, ideals, aims, and character.
- Outwardly, he appeared to be concerned with spiritual things as the helper of a prophet;
inwardly, he was covetous, greedy, worldly, and without any interest in spiritual things.
His wickedness is demonstrated by his attitude toward one of another race.
His words, "Behold, my master hath spared this Namaan, the Syrian." (5: 20b)
These words reveal his double standard.
He had one standard for his own countrymen, and another for Namaan because he was a Syrian.
He thought that there was no harm in fleecing a Syrian.
This is wickedness at its worst.
His wickedness is demonstrated by his attitude toward his master's honor.
He did not hesitate to drag his master's name in the dust, and put him on the same basis
as the false prophets in Israel, and by so doing, he could attain his own ends.
His master's honor meant nothing to him.
His wickedness is also demonstrated by his attitude toward the simple truth -- simple honesty.
He lied to himself: "As Jehovah liveth." (Verse 20b)
He lied to Namaan: "My master hath sent me." (Verse 22)
He lied to Elisha: "Thy servant went no whether." (Verse 25b)
The respectable exterior was ripped off of Gehazi's heart,
and the doom of leprosy on the outside would now proclaim the wickedness on the inside.
Gehazi had provoked God too long, and now his wicked, sinful heart was laid open bare.
Treachery had outdone itself.
Covetousness had defeated its own selfish ends.
Gehazi had committed spiritual suicide. (See James 1:15)
Why was Gehazi's wicked heart laid bare?
First, it was because the honor and peace of a nation was at stake.
Remember Elisha's words to the fearful king when Namaan made his appearance at court,
"Wherefore hast thou rent thy clothes?
Let him come now to me, and he shall know that there is a prophet in Israel." (Verse 8)
There had been an intermittent, but deadly war with Syria for sometime, and by his act of mercy
and generosity, Elisha had hoped to strike a blow for peace.
Gehazi had betrayed all of that.
Also, the honor of the prophetic office was at stake.
There were false prophets, both in Israel and in Syria.
They performed for a price.
Elisha was in no way like them.
Gehazi's great sin was that he did this in his master's name,
and held him up to an open shame before a man he would have taught to honor -- a true prophet of God.
Gehazi's wicked heart was laid bare because the honor of God was at stake.
Elisha had required an act of faith so that the grace of God could be released upon Namaan.
Namaan recognized that his healing had been an act of the God of Israel.
Elisha had refused any gift in the name of God. (Verse 16)
Gehazi's act jeopardized all this.
Namaan could have returned to Syria with the impression that the gift of God could indeed
be purchased with money.
(See Acts 8: 20)
The message is clear!
The moral is clear!
We can provoke God just so far.
We can hold His honor and that of His true servants up to an open shame, and He will strike us down openly.
The wicked may get by with it for a time, but sooner or later, the wicked heart will be unmasked.
God's judgment followed close upon the unmasking of his heart.
These words are terrible: "The leprosy therefore of Namaan shall cleave unto thee,
and unto thy seed forever, and he went out from his presence a leper as white as snow." (Verse 27)
The prophet was saying, "You want Namaan's riches regardless of the cost in sin
and betrayal and lies; then take his leprosy also."
Let this disease without reveal the rottenness within.
When God's judgment catches up with us, it sometimes takes an ironic turn.
In the end Joseph's brothers did bow down before him.
Haman was hanged on his own gallows.
Gehazi reaped a living death as the leprosy of the man he had despised and cheated clung to him
as an open badge advertising his sin.
The worst thing that could happen to some would be this: to be forced to wear their hearts on their sleeves.
Or to wear a sign indicating what was in their hearts.
We cannot miss the moral here!
Our sins will catch up with us.
They will track us down and find us out.
The secrets of our hearts will one day be laid bare.
Who will be able to stand?
Only those whose hearts are cleansed by the blood of the Lamb!
Jeremiah said: "The heart is deceitful above all things, and it is exceedingly corrupt."
John assures us that: "The blood of Jesus His Son cleanseth us from all sin." (1 John 1: 7b)
Sermon by Dr. Harold L. White