Naaman, like most unbelievers, may not be interested in God until they are desperate. At their point of greatest need, a compassionate word from a follower of Christ may provide the perfect healing they need. God often allows temporal suffering in our life to drive us toward Him, so that He can provide healing that will save us from an eternity of suffering.
Elisha wisely instructed Naaman to do something seemingly foolish. As Naaman ranted, he could have easily washed in a river at home if that were the cure. But Elisha’s point was not the river, but the exercise of faith. Naaman had come a long way, but Elisha asked him to take one more step of faith.
Upon being healed, Naaman was eager to reward Elisha, but the prophet refused. Elisha knew that the blessings of God are not for sale. Sadly, his servant Gehazi allowed greed to lure him away from faith, and it resulted in him becoming leprous. Our proximity to godly men and women does not protect us from our own proclivity toward sin.
There are some practical implications to Elisha’s refusal and Gehazi’s reward. As leprosy is a contagious disease, Elisha’s refusal to see Naaman until after he was healed and his refusal to accept anything the leper may have been to prevent the spread of disease. Similarly, Gehazi’s infection may have resulted from accepting clothes and money which was likely infected, although the immediacy with which he became “white as snow” indicates a supernatural element. Parenting experts tell us the best consequences for teaching our children are those that occur naturally as a result of their behavior. Often, God allows us to learn in just this way, by experiencing the natural consequences of our own choices.