Devotional Week 31 Wednesday
“And God’s peace shall be yours, that tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and being content with (our) earthly lot of whatever sort that is, that peace which transcends all understanding shall garrison and mount guard over your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”
Philippians 4: 7
“I take Thee for my Peace, O Lord,
My heart to keep and fill;
Thine own great calm amid earth’s storms,
Shall keep me always still,
And as Thy kingdom doth increase,
So shall Thine ever-deepening peace.”
Annie W. Marston
Today’s Study Text:
“But he (Gehazi) went in, and stood before his master. And Elisha said unto him, ‘Whence comest thou, Gehazi?’ and (Gehazi) said, ‘Thy servant went not whither.’”
II Kings 5: 25
“Greed’s Family Tree”
“Envy is the reverse side of a coin called vanity. Nobody is ever envious of others who is not first proud of (themselves).”
Have I ever found myself filled with a spirit of pride?
How has my own pride caused me to be envious of others?
How has envy and jealousy caused me to be dishonest with myself and others?
“We all have seeds of jealousy and envy in us. The question is, who among us will acknowledge it?”
“Seeds of Envy and Jealousy”
“Those who deceive others, deceive themselves, as they will find at last, to their cost.”
The deed had been done. The silver coins and gorgeous garments were now hidden away with the belongings of Gehazi. Who knows exactly where Elisha’s assistant hid the “gain” he had gotten. However, with the booty placed in some secret spot where Gehazi believed no one would find it, he went into the presence of Elisha. Sadly, all of a sudden, things didn’t seem right. The air felt different. Gehazi could hardly get his breath. He felt his hands, which were now cold and sweaty.
Possibly, Gehazi may have asked himself, “How could things go so very wrong?” He had felt that the silver and garments were only “fair-pay” for a job well-done. But now, in front of Elisha, the strain of the moment weighed heavy upon Gehazi.
As he looked toward Elisha, a question broke the uncomfortable silence, “Where have you been?”
With the speed of lightening Gehazi shot back his response, “Thy servant didn’t go anywhere.” Just look at this comeback from the position of the guilt-ridden Gehazi. “Elisha, I’m only your servant. I only belong to you.” And yet at that very moment, Gehazi knew full-well in his heart that there was someone and something much stronger that he served. Oh yes, the hidden items had a hold on him much greater than any service to Elisha or to God, for that matter. Tragically, the measly possessions he had desired so badly, now clutched not only his heart, but also his soul. Author Mabel Hale wrote that, “A lie is cowardly.” And as Gehazi found out, it was much easier to take the coward’s way out than to come clean and admit to Elisha exactly what he had done.
As I reread our study text for today, I tried to put myself in the room with Gehazi and Elisha. Gehazi had to be ill-at-ease. As R. A. Torrey so correctly noted, “A man’s face will often reveal that which his words try to conceal.” And I just have a feeling Gehazi’s face told the whole story.
It is here in our story that I want to stop for a moment and go back to the word which began our week – greed. As we learned, this powerful desire for excessively more of what I really don’t need, at some unknown time, slithered into Gehazi’s life. Quite possibly it lay dormant for a long time, hiding under the outward show of thoughtfulness and duty, for Gehazi had shown himself to have a number of positive characteristics in his life.
But then one day, greed unearthed its nasty head and along with greed, came a host of family members that were attached like leeches to the family tree. Here are just a few of the relatives that carried greed’s bloodline – the same DNA – just looked a little different:
1. Envy: It does well to identify this relative first for I know that I’ve found myself falling into envy’s cycle of thinking on more than one occasion. To be very honest, I’ve struggled with this nasty vixen more frequently since our car accident. It’s very tough to have worked hard all your life, doing for others, taking care of your family and then after having your body turned into a shattered, cracked-up disaster. You now have to watch others and listen to others around you, go on and on about the joys they experience traveling here or there; about the plans they are making for a secure future; about the fun they have with their children and grandchildren and you have been denied all these pleasures. It’s very difficult not to be even a little envious. I find it rather ironic in my personal life that King Solomon addressed the very challenge I face when he wrote these words in Proverbs 14: 30, “A sound heart is the life of the flesh; but envy the rottenness of the bones.” Believe me, my poor arthritic, fractured bones don’t need any more problems – certainly not envy. And just to make certain I understood Solomon’s intent, I checked on the Hebrew meaning of the word “sound” and here’s what I learned. The Hebrew word “marpê: means: curative, healing remedy, wholeness.” In other words, for a healthy being to exist, the curative, healing solution is a “sound” heart, emptied of envy.
2. Jealously: A twin of envy on greed’s family tree is jealousy, which is defined as being bitter or resentful. Close to envy, but with jealousy, there’s a corrosive poison that invades which can do irreparable damage to us. I had a note from one of God’s precious daughter’s yesterday, thanking me for the devotional which she noted, ”hit close to home.” In Sharon’s case, as a mom, she has had to watch a very toxic former son-in-law succeed and seemingly slide right along in life, unimpeded by the consequences of very hurtful behavior to her daughter. As she shared with me, when you are just making it paycheck-to-paycheck, it’s not easy to watch one whose devious ways have done so much damage. Asaph had the same challenge for in Psalm 73, he had quite a discussion with his heavenly Father. I love his honestly in this particular passage of Scripture, “Behold, these are the ungodly who always prosper and are at ease in the world; they increase in riches.” (Pardon me, but one would think Asaph was alive today and expressing the same thing so many of us are facing right now!) Asaph even goes on to convey to God the fact that he couldn’t understand why this travesty was happening. As he told God, “It was too great an effort for me to understand and too painful” (Psalm 73: 12, 16, Amplified Bible). But something changed for Asaph because he writes that when he went into the sanctuary of God, (the hallowed, holy place), then I understood.” The fact is that the heart that is sound, filled with our Father’s holiness, despite everything unfair that strikes us, in the end will share the joy of the eternal presence of our Father. Hallelujah! But I want to add one more personal note. Sometimes as we struggle here on planet earth, waiting for a future time of peace, joy and holiness just doesn’t cut-it with me, not on a day when we bear witness to so much suffering all around us. It is at times like these when I remind myself that it would be impossible to face our daily trials without our dear Father right by our side. And I ask myself, “Why can’t my eternal joy begin right now? This very day!” Isn’t this what following Jesus is all about? Living each day knowing that no matter what I face, my eternal peace and joy are a “today” reality, not something I have to put off for some future date. I wouldn’t want then to live my life the way the “wicked” live theirs, with no hope for the future; with no concern for others; and with no knowledge that the footsteps beside me and the hands that guide me carry the “prints” of this earth’s pain and trials. Indeed, an understanding Protector leads me every moment of every day.
3. Lying: While there are a host of relatives on greed’s family tree, the last family member I want to visit today is lying. Rowan Williams noted, “Peace is the first casualty of untruthfulness.” If we long to have heaven’s gift of peace invade our being, truth must be lifted upon a banner within our hearts. The Apostle Paul instructed his dear friends in the church at Colosse, “Do not lie to one another, for you have stripped off the old self with its evil practices” (Colossians 3: 9, Amplified Bible). It is wise for us to take notice of the fact that “lying” is part of what Paul calls “evil practices.” I found it interesting that the Apostle Paul didn’t differentiate between little tiny lies or big evil lies. Pastor D. L. Moody called attention to the distinction some make with lying, and don’t forget, his words were spoken in the 19th century, “We have got nowadays so that we divide lies into white lies and black lies, society lies and business lies, etc. The Word of God knows no such letting-down of the standard.” One thing for certain that God’s Word is clear about is that when the beloved disciple wrote the book of Revelation, the last book in the Holy Bible, as he described our eternal home, his portrayal of the citizens of this wonderful home clearly tells us that the following types of individuals will not be present in this glorious land, “But nothing that defiles or profanes or is unwashed shall ever enter it, nor anyone who commits abomination or practices falsehoods” (Revelation 21: 27, Amplified Bible).
The Family Tree of Greed. With relatives like jealousy, envy and lying, who would want to be connected to this tree or claim this family as part of your heritage.
However, I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that the same John who told us what wouldn’t be in our eternal home, also shares with us the fact that someday, we will not only be able to look upon a new tree, we will, throughout eternity partake of the bounty of this tree: “Through the middle of the broadway of the city; also, on either side of the river was the Tree of Life with its twelve varieties of fruit, yielding each month its fresh crop; and the leaves of tree were for the healing and the restoration of the nations”
(Revelation 22: 2, Amplified Bible).
Now, if we go back to the words of King Solomon who in Proverbs 14: 30 said “a sound heart is life to the flesh,” it seems that Solomon, too, was looking forward to a day when our hearts are healed and whole and restored. A day when the family tree of greed no longer exists for it has been replaced by our Father’s Tree of Life. I can’t wait for that day and I know you can’t either!
“To profess to love God while leading an unholy life is the worst of falsehoods.”
Augustine of Hippo
“From the cowardice that dare not face truth
From the laziness that is content with half truth
From the arrogance that thinks it knows all truth
Good Lord, deliver me.”
Prayer from Kenya
“O God, You desire truth in the inmost heart; forgive me my sins against truth – the untruth within me, the half-lies, the evasions, the exaggerations, the lying silences, the self-deceits, the masks I wear before the world. Let me stand naked before You, and see myself as I really am. Then, grant me truth in the inward parts and keep me in truth always.”
(1902-1993 – Adapted)
Dorothy Valcàrcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus