Two Mules’ Burdens of Earth
The story of Naaman receiving a cure for leprosy has been well known in the brotherhood, having been taught by just about every preacher. Most of the time, however, one only hears part of the story and that is the command for Naaman to plunge seven times in the Jordan River. There’s more.
Naaman made another request after receiving his cure. He sought Elisha’s permission to take some earth back to Syria (2 Kings 5:17). Naaman wanted to worship the God who cured him when he returned to Syria. Because Naaman was steeped in idolatry, he didn’t believe that God could be worshiped except on his own land.
There was a little more to it as we learn from 2 Kings 5:18. While the king of Syria was kneeling before the Syrian god, Rimmon, Naaman would appear to be doing the same, but would really be worshiping the true God.
Naaman was doing two things wrong here. First, he was attempting to deceive the Syrian king. And, he was attempting to pay homage to God inside an idol temple. Naaman was guilty of trying to perpetuate a case of divided loyalty. He wanted to have his job as a leader in the Syrian army and his place beside the king. But, he also knew he wanted to worship the God who had cured his leprosy.
God can’t be divided this way. We can’t have the true God and put an idol next to him and worship both. Many people mistakenly think they can do this. They think they can worship God and money, but Jesus said that was not possible (Matthew 6:24). People also think they can worship God and recreation, God and material possessions, or God and just about anything else. Such, however, is not possible. We must devote ourselves fully, completely to God: heart, body, and soul, or we will be guilty of the same split devotion Naaman was.
Grand Blanc Church of Christ, Grand Blanc, MI