Text: 2 Kings 5:20-27

Man need food and water to survive. It is thus little surprise that unregenerate
man will do all he can to make sure that his belly is served. The belly becomes
their god, and they will do whatever it takes to make sure that the lusts of the
belly are fulfilled.

Sadly, Christendom is rife with those who profess to be believers of Christ, but
are actually servants of their bellies. Paul warns the Philippian church of such
corrupt men in Philippians 3:18-19, “For many walk, of whom I have told you
often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of
Christ: Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is
in their shame, who mind earthly things.” (Phil. 3:18-19) He also warns the
Roman Christians to beware of false teachers for, “they that are such serve not
our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair
speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.” (Rom. 16:18)

Children of God are supposed to be servants of God and not their bellies.
However, as long as we are bound to this corrupt body, we are also bound to
our physical needs and senses. It is thus easy to lapse into serving our bellies
rather than God if we are not walking close to Christ.

The example of Gehazi in today’s passage serves as a warning to all of us to
never serve our bellies. The consequences of serving our bellies can be dire.
The spirit of Gehazi in this passage stands in stark contrast with Elisha. Elisha
vehemently refused to receive any gift from Naaman. His sincerity and
determination can be seen when he declared, “As the LORD liveth, before whom
I stand, I will receive none.” (2 Ki. 5:16) Despite the insistence of Naaman,
Elisha stood true to his words.

Why did Elisha choose not to receive any reward? Is not a labourer worthy of
his hire (Luke 10:7)? Elisha chose to give up a prophet’s right for reward as he
wanted to impress upon Naaman that salvation cannot be bought with money. If
one desires salvation, he must humble himself before the Lord, repent of his
sins, and receive the LORD as his Saviour. The message of this miracle is
similar to the incident in Acts 8 when Simon tried to ask Peter for the power of
the Holy Spirit in exchange of money. Peter flatly refused and rebuke Simon.

Embodying the same spirit, the Apostle Paul spoke about giving up his apostolic
rights to renumeration, so that the truth of God’s Word could advance in 1
Corinthians 9:11-18, “If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great
thing if we shall reap your carnal things? 12 If others be partakers of this power
over you, are not we rather? Nevertheless we have not used this power; but
suffer all things, lest we should hinder the gospel of Christ. 13 Do ye not know
that they which minister about holy things live of the things of the temple? and
they which wait at the altar are partakers with the altar? 14 Even so hath the
Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel. 15 But
I have used none of these things: neither have I written these things, that it
should be so done unto me: for it were better for me to die, than that any man
should make my glorying void. 16 For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing
to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the
gospel! 17 For if I do this thing willingly, I have a reward: but if against my will,
a dispensation of the gospel is committed unto me. 18 What is my reward then?
Verily that, when I preach the gospel, I may make the gospel of Christ without
charge, that I abuse not my power in the gospel.” We can learn much from the
selfless spirit of the saints of old.

On the other hand, Gehazi was determined to move in the opposite direction.
Invoking the name of the LORD, he declared, “As the LORD liveth, I will run
after him, and take somewhat of him.” (2 Ki. 5:20) He became a servant to his

The love of money is the root of all evil (1 Tim. 6:10). His servitude to his belly
led him to be a liar. First, he put words into Elisha’s mouth when he declared
that his master had requested one talent of silver and two changes of garments to
be given to two young prophets. Naaman insisted that they should have two
talents of silver instead of one, which the two young prophets duly obliged.
Gehazi then met the young prophets in a tower in Samaria and sent them away
from the city so that they would not be spotted.

What Gehazi did was utterly despicable. His greed led him to employ deception,
painting the two young prophets as needing financial help. He had depicted his
master as a hypocrite, and by doing so, was also depicting the LORD to be a
hypocrite. He did great damage to the name of Christ just for the sake of material
gain. Such is the way of one who is the servant of his belly.

However, the deception did not end there. When Elisha asked Gehazi where he
went, he chose to lie that he came from nowhere. The rebuke of Elisha was to the
point, “Is it a time to receive money, and to receive garments, and oliveyards,
and vineyards, and sheep, and oxen, and menservants, and maidservants?” (2
Ki. 5:26) He knew of Gehazi’s plan to enrich himself, just like the rest of
the world by owning vineyards and servants. However, this was not the time to
do so. His actions could have an adverse effect in leading Naaman away from the
truth. Naaman ought to have his faith in the Lord strengthened but Gehazi has
endangered Naaman’s spiritual growth in exchange for filthy lucre. He was every
bit deserving of being judged by the Lord with the infliction of leprosy.

As for us today, we must take heed not to let covetousness take root in our heart.
Wherever the Lord has placed us to serve, whether at home, work or school, we
must not let the belly be our master. Doing so will soon lead us to apply
situational ethics and to sin against the Lord. We will become opportunistic like
Gehazi, and do all it takes for material gain. When the time comes to count the
cost, we will choose to give up the truth and betray the Lord. We will lose all the
spiritual blessings that come by following the Lord. It will be tragic indeed.
We end with the commentary of Edersheim: “The Syrian had become an Israelite
in heart and spirit, and he was healed of his leprosy in Israel’s waters. The
Israelite had become heathen in heart and spirit, and his children were struck
with the leprosy of the Syrian, whose money he had coveted for himself and his
family. What he had sown, that did he reap. And this also was not only for just
judgment, but for a testimony to God and to His servant.”

Yours affectionately,
Pastor Clement Chew