The old testament tells of a wealthy man who had leprosy that came to see the prophet Elisha, hoping to be healed. The man was named Naaman and he was reportedly a very good man. To the point, Elisha healed Naaman of leprosy, and Naaman immediately offered to pay Elisha in gold and silver. Elisha refused the gift and sent the man on his way home. That should have been the end of the story but Elisha’s assistant, Gehazi, felt that Elisha had been too easy on Naaman, so he caught up with Naaman and lied. He told Naaman that Elisha had changed his mind and would like two talents of silver (about $12,000) and two sets of clothes for two prophets that just returned to Elisha. Naaman happily gave the gifts and Gehazi went home and hid them.
Elisha knew what had just happened and asked Gehazi to tell the truth — “Where have you been and what have you been doing?”. Gehazi tried to deceive Elisha, but Elisha knew it responded that the penalty of his dishonesty would be that Ghazi would be leprous (and his off-spring) from that day forward. Immediately the man was covered with leprosy. Wow! No “warnings”? No lectures? No community service?
You might not like these stories in the Bible, but there they are — staring at us. This account hit me like never before today. God hates lying and sneaking around. Deception and not “coming clean” about the wrong things we’ve done might not mean much to you and me (it clearly makes no difference to most of the people in Washington, DC, Hollywood and the UN!) but it means a lot to God.
I was convicted about not always being TOTALLY honest and FREE of deceit. The ten commandments do not merely say “tell the truth”, but “DO NOT BEAR FALSE WITNESS” — i.e. don’t allow yourself to lead people to believe or assume something that are not totally true! That’s more than simply not lying or telling the truth — it’s about INTEGRITY. And integrity means doing the right thing — not simply the convenient, expedient, self-serving, or even the legally required thing… but the right thing.
How can we pray for God to bless us, our families, community, or nation when we and those we hold in high esteem are acting like Gehazi instead of Elisha! Am I being careful to always speak the truth and never allow myself to play with words? May God give us men and women of integrity and honesty — and may I be one of those men.