By Joe Slater
Despite being a leper, Naaman the Syrian army commander retained his pride. Didn’t his status merit a dramatic healing ceremony from Elijah? “Behold, I thought, ‘He will surely come out to me, and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, and wave his hand over the place, and heal the leprosy’” (2 Kings 5:11). Instead, Elijah had sent a servant to instruct Naaman to dip seven times in the Jordan River. How undignified! But when he set aside his prideful anger and obeyed, the cleansed leper’s “Behold, I thought” became “Now I know” (v. 15).
This wasn’t the first time someone’s think-so turned out to be wrong. When Abraham and Sarah journeyed to the Philistine city of Gerar, Abraham told King Abimelech that Sarah was his sister (just as he had done in Egypt many years earlier). Abimelech promptly took Sarah into his harem, but the Lord just as promptly ordered him to return her to her husband. The indignant king demanded an answer from Abraham: “Why have you done this thing?” Abraham’s excuse was, “I thought surely the fear of God is not in this place, and they will kill me on account of my wife” (Genesis 20:1-11). Yes, he thought – but was dreadfully wrong.
Looking back at the time he had been a Jesus-hating abuser of Christians, Paul said, “Indeed, I myself thought I must do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth” (Acts 26:9). Like Abraham and Naaman, Paul had to come to grips with how utterly wrong he had been.
What a difference between “Behold, I thought” and “Now I know”! The line of demarcation: Learning and obeying God’s will.
- Joe Slater serves as minister of the Church of Christ in Justin, TX. He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://justinchurchofchrist.com