A Lesson from Elisha and Gehazi

Daily Devotional: Day 153

“But Gehazi, the servant of Elisha the man of God, said, “Look, my master has spared Naaman this Syrian, while not receiving from his hands what he brought; but as the Lord lives, I will run after him and take something from him’” (2 Kings 5:20-21, NKJV).

July, 2007. I had just been ordained a Roman Catholic priest. Before I began my assignment as Associate Pastor, I needed to take driving lessons. My driving instructor was a young man, probably in his mid-30s. He was preparing for ministry in an evangelical church. One hot afternoon, while we were on the road, he sought my advice regarding the integrity of a man of God. His question was: “So, what should a man of God be more careful about, women or money?” “Money,” I replied. Surprised at my answer, he said, “Oh, I thought it would be women.” “No,” I replied. “Women are visible and human like us, so you can easily tell if a problem is approaching and advice yourself. But money neither talks nor walks. It has no face; it controls people through its invisible yet seductive power. You won’t even know you’re in love with it. Love of money is the greatest threat to the integrity of a man of God.” Our conversation continued, but I’ll spare you any further details. 

In today’s passage, the prophet Elisha heals Naaman, the commanding officer of the Syrian army. In gratitude, he offers Elisha a gift. Elisha declines. But Gehazi, unable to control his greed, pursues Naaman and takes gifts from him under the pretext of acting on the orders of Elisha. That was the end of Gehazi’s ministry. As further punishment, he was inflicted with the leprosy of Naaman. This story teaches us a lesson about greed and integrity in the service of God.

Greed is idolatry (cf. Colossians 3:5). Whatever a person is greedy about, that is his god. Greed is unbridled desire to pursue or possess things of the world. When it takes hold of people, it’s like a drug; people can’t let go, except by sincere repentance. Over time, if people don’t change, they become numb to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. Recall the story of Judas. People will kill because of money. They will betray friendship because of money. For the sake of money, people will even make a covenant with satan. Inside the Church or outside it, the god of greed has many victims worshiping at its altar. 

Today, God wants you to be like Elisha, and not like Gehazi. He wants you to remember your calling in Christ Jesus and keep your focus on serving God with integrity.  No matter what your needs are, resist the temptation to compromise your relationship with God. Trust the good Father to provide for your needs. 

 May the Lord supply all your needs in accordance with His riches in glory in Christ Jesus! Amen.

 For further study: 2 Kings 5:1-27

“Money, Come to Me!”

Daily Devotional: Day 101

“And He [Jesus] said to them, “Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses’” (Luke 12:15, NKJV).

Jesus made the above statement about 2000 years ago. Yet His statement is extremely relevant for today’s generation. Our society makes a big deal of people’s net worth. Gradually, the trend is to measure people’s value by their material possessions. Fascinated by celebrity lifestyle and driven by our consumerist culture, young people (and even some older people) are increasing seeking validation through material possessions.

Our society is constantly pushing the false notion (via movies, TV shows, magazines, books, the educational system, peer pressure, etc.) that a person’s worth is primarily measured by the material possessions he has accumulated.

Even more disturbing is the growing obsession in our churches with the so-called ‘Gospel of Prosperity’ and its persistent emphasis on ‘sowing seed.’ Instead of being an example to the world, churches are also falling for the lie. The effect is that the poor among us and those who are struggling financially are made to feel  awkward in the house of God.

That is what happens when you’re made to feel that your lack of financial prosperity is probably a sign that you don’t have enough faith, or you don’t sow enough seed, or you don’t pray enough, or you don’t pay your tithe, or you’re under a curse, or you just don’t ‘confess’ the right things.

In fact, on some occasions Christians are even encouraged to confess by faith: “Money, come to me! Money, come to me!” But this is a different Gospel – which is no Gospel at all. It is not the Gospel preached by Jesus, the Apostles or the Prophets.

True, the Bible talks about ‘sowing and reaping’ to describe the blessings of giving (cf. 2 Corinthians 9:6-15). But like everything in the Bible, one can pull passages out of context or capitalize on biblical concepts, blow them out of proportion and create ungodly practices or doctrines out of them. We all need to carefully examine Jesus’ statement in today’s Scripture reading. He says, “one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses” (emphasis mine).

Jesus is not against material prosperity. But He is against obsession with material possessions and the giving of the impression that people’s wealth – or lack thereof – is the measure of their worth. Don’t give in to the ungodly pressure to prove your worth. Your true worth as God’s child is measured by your standing with the Father and how much treasure you have stored in heaven through your faithfulness to God’s calling. 

Your worth is not about what you have, but who you are in God’s sight. God sets your true worth, not Hollywood, not Wall Street, not your bankers, and certainly not your friends. 

Prayer:

Lord, I am what I am by your grace. I give you all the glory and honor. Help me to always realize that my true worth is based on your love for me and your divine calling upon me. In the Name of Jesus, I pray. Amen.

For further study: Luke 12:13-34

Escape Financial Slavery

Daily Devotional: Day 80

“The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is the slave of the lender” (Proverbs 22:7, RSV).

 God wants you to live with dignity. And part of living with dignity is to live within your means and avoid a cycle of debt. God doesn’t want you to build your life on a foundation of debt. Rather, He wants you to own what you have and spend what truly belongs to you, and not be a slave to any individual lender or financial organization.

The credit card system of the modern era is extremely enticing, but upon close examination, you’ll realize that it’s a snare. It makes you spend money you don’t have  or haven’t worked for; and many people are oblivious to the fact that this system wasn’t designed to empower you or to make you free. Rather, it’s designed to benefit the creators of the system and make you a slave to banks, lenders and creditors.

Whoever lends you money basically owns you. That’s the truth; there’s no way around it. To stay ahead, use your credit card (and loans also) as sparingly as possible; and if you use it, make sure it’s for purely strategic purposes that will maximize your advantage in life. Set up a smart, Bible-based personal financial strategy to beat the system – in an honest way – before the system beats you. The financial system that controls much of the world is rigged against the poor, the working class and the middle class; you need to make peace with this reality and figure out how to survive, escape the matrix and live with dignity. In this regard, God’s Word is your sure guide. With God, you can’t go wrong. Pay attention to everything He says in the Bible about finances and you’ll gain an advantage in life.

Furthermore, avoid the habit of spending money you don’t have. Don’t become a victim of our current materialistic and consumerist culture. They entice you to buy things you don’t need, then they lend you more money (with interest; don’t forget!) to help you buy more. From time to time, they even send you treats for good behavior; they call it “reward points.” This makes you feel good about yourself, and it motivates you to stay in the  financial maze they’ve designed for you.

My brothers and sisters in Christ, the Holy Spirit is no liar. When He says the rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is the slave of the lender, we need to pay attention to His words. He spoke these words more than 2000 years ago. And they’re as valid today as they were then. As God’s children, our heavenly Father wants us to open our eyes to see reality for what it is. Stay ahead of the financial system, else it’ll own you and use you for the better part of your life. Fulfill the plan God has for you, which is, to be the head and not the tail. Amen.

Prayer:

Daddy God, thank you for opening my eyes through the Scriptures. Give me wisdom to manage my finances. And empower me to live as the head and not the tail. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

For further study: Genesis 23:1-20

Heaven Bank Savings

Daily Devotional: Day 56

“But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6:20-21, KJV).

Jesus didn’t come into the world to discourage us from building the human family on earth. In fact, on the contrary, he empowered us to bless the world with the love and truth of God. That said, Jesus wants us to understand priorities.  He wants us to avoid the danger of prioritizing this temporary world over matters of eternity. Every human being is first and foremost a spirit. So, it’ll be a mistake to invest in this passing world to the detriment of your spiritual health. As Jesus stated, “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:26). Knowing the distinction between eternal realities and temporal realities is an essential part of walking with God. As in the day of Jesus, so it is today. People can get so caught up with the material things of this world that they forget that they have a higher supernatural calling in Christ Jesus.

In today’s Bible passage, Jesus exhorts us to lay up treasure for ourselves in heaven’s bank. You have an account opened for you in heaven. And Jesus says you have the responsibility to increase your treasure in heaven. You see, our decisions have consequences. Everything we do or fail to do affects our heaven bank account. Your true treasure is in heaven, where there’s no corruption. As you go about your normal life, obeying Jesus and walking in the Father’s Word, you’re building up eternal treasure for yourself. Where your heart is, says a lot about what matters to you. Keep your heart in heaven, your heart’s true home.

Prayer:

Dear Daddy, glory to you for giving us heaven. Thank you for giving us the opportunity to lay up treasure in heaven. Let your Holy Spirit always remind me of heaven. In the Name of Jesus. Amen.

For further study: Luke 12:13-21

Pursue God’s Wisdom, Not Money

Daily Devotional: Day 11

“For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows” (1 Timothy 6:10, KJV).

The world can give you money without wisdom, but God will not give you money without his wisdom. Without divine wisdom, money can lead your heart astray. This has happened to many people. But it must not happen to you. Money is a means, not an end. When money becomes an end, it becomes a god. And many people worship and idolize money without realizing it. Judas became a victim to the love of money. See where it ended him (Matthew 26:14-16). Being God’s child, remember that the Lord is your shepherd; you shall not lack. Having money is necessary to having a decent, stress-free life. Besides, God is not against you becoming rich. In fact, he blesses us with power for wealth.  The Bible says, “But thou shalt remember the LORD thy God: for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth” (Deuteronomy 8:18). God wants the best for you, but he doesn’t want you to become a slave to money. Being a slave to money means subjecting your heart to the love of money, thereby prioritizing money over and above your Christian values and your integrity.

What you need the most is God’s wisdom, not money. You’ll have money at some point, but remember that, in the sight of God, accumulation of money isn’t necessarily a sign of success. For God, success begins with walking in his wisdom and in the fear of God. God was pleased when King Solomon asked for wisdom instead of wealth (1 Kings 3:9-12). You, too, are a royal in the Kingdom of God. For you, the key to godly success is to prioritize God’s wisdom. Armed with this wisdom, you’ll gain divine insight into how to generate wealth without falling victim to the seductive power of money. You’re from God’s royal house. Let money serve you, but don’t be a slave to money.

Prayer

Dear Father, you’re the King of my heart. Thank you for giving me the power to get wealth. Give me wisdom to walk with integrity and never become a slave to anything. In the Name of Jesus. Amen.

For further study: Hebrews 13:5-6; Proverbs 8:1-21

By:

Pastor Stephen “Steve” Bilson-Ogoe

Charis Temple (non-denominational church)

Manassas, Virginia, USA

Email: charristemple@gmail.com

“For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared” (Titus 2:11)