Sunday, 29 September 2013

Counterfeit Gods: Part 5 - The Seduction of Success: Naaman’s Pride

Hello All,
The competitive culture of today emphasizes on the importance of striving for academic excellence and career achievements.
Although it is vital to fulfill one’s role and responsibilities in life, there is always a temptation to overwork and prioritize those avenues of success to the point of obsession and idolatry.
This often results in an overinflated ego and the neglect of other priorities in life.
The poem I wrote for the fifth part of the ‘Counterfeit Gods’ series, ‘The Seduction of Success’, is quite long so I am dividing it into three weeks.
We will be looking at ‘Naaman’s Pride’ (2 Kings 5:1-7) today, ‘Naaman’s Humility’ (2 Kings 5:8-14) next week and then ‘Naaman’s Resolution’ (2 Kings 5:15-17) for the following week.

Counterfeit Gods: Part 5 - The Seduction of Success: Naaman’s Pride
By Joanne Liaw Sook Ling (18th July 2013)

There once was a man named Naaman, the commander
Of the army of Syria who found great favour
With his master for he was a man of valour
Who won many battles but he was a leper

He could not rejoice or bask in his achievements
For his disease found no cure in any treatments
His body was wasting away as time went by
He was like a walking dead man who would soon die

Naaman's wife had a little slave girl who was captured
During a raid in Israel and placed under her
The girl's compassion for her enemy was pure
She told Naaman's wife about a potential cure

'There is a mighty prophet of God from my land
Who could heal my Lord's leprosy with healing hands'
Naaman eagerly made this known to his master
'Go now and I'll send to Israel's king a letter'

So Naaman brought gifts of clothing, gold and silver
And he delivered them with his master's letter
To the king of Israel as goodwill offerings
In exchange for Naaman's miraculous healing

The king of Israel received and read the letter
He tore his robes in despair for he couldn't offer
Miraculous healing for Naaman's leprosy
So he viewed this as a threat from his enemy


Points for Reflection:
·         Naaman was a man of great success and reputation but he was a suffering leper. There was no cure for his illness during those days and he was just wasting away.
·         Are you experiencing a certain trial, struggle or illness which no amount of success is able to deliver you from?
Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God. My soul is cast down within me; therefore I remember you from the land of Jordan and of Hermon, from Mount Mizar. (Psalm 42:5-6)
·         When all seemed bleak and hopeless, a little Israelite girl, who was captured in a raid and made a slave to Naaman’s wife, relayed a message of hope to her nemesis. Instead of rejoicing at her enemy’s plight she chose to show God’s love, compassion and grace. She had not forgotten about God even though she was living as a slave in a foreign land.
·         Are you tempted to rejoice at your enemy’s plight especially after they have treated you unfairly and even condescendingly? If so, how could you show God’s love, compassion and grace to those who mistreat you? How could you repay evil with good?
To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:20-21)
Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing. (1 Peter 3:9)
·         The slave girl told Naaman’s wife that it was a prophet of Israel who could cure him. But Naaman pulled strings and used his connection with his master, the king of Syria, to seek healing from the highest authority in Israel – the king of Israel. He thought that the God of Israel was one that could be manipulated through gifts and offerings to the king. But he was so wrong. His initial attempt to seek a cure appeared futile as the king of Israel thought that the king of Syria was picking a quarrel with him for he could not cure leprosy.
·         It is not wrong to use connections with authorities and people to resolve issues but it is foolish to place your hope and security in them. Your ultimate hope should be in God alone so after you have pulled the necessary strings, you should commit the issue to God in prayer. How have you been tempted to place your hope in men instead of God?   

Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation. When his breath departs, he returns to the earth; on that very day his plans perish. Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the LORD his God, who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, who keeps faith forever (Psalm 146:3-6)