God Forbid That I Should Glory
Innate in almost every natural man is the human tendency to be too proud of one’s own personal or earthly accomplishments. In the Bible we find that self-glorying and the trumpeting of one’s personal attainments are both condemned. Jeremiah proclaimed: “Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom; the mighty man of his might; a rich man of his riches; but let him who boasts boast that he understands and knows me, declares the Lord” – 9:23-24.
The apostle Paul declared the same to the Corinthians when he wrote: “For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things, the weak things, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen…so that no flesh should glory in His presence (KJV) – 1 Cor. 1:26-29.
The above Scriptures should bring to mind how God’s thoughts and ways are higher than our thoughts and ways – Isa. 55:8-9. They also bring to this writer’s mind the Old Testament story of Naaman – 2 Kgs. 5:1-15.
Here we find a man who had many of the above accolades. He was a victorious captain of the Syrian army; a great man highly respected by the king, and a mighty and valiant warrior, but he was a leper!
Naaman heard about Elisha through the humble little Israelitish girl who waited on his wife. She had been taken captive as a slave away from her Israeli family by a band of Aramean marauders, yet she still wanted healing for Naaman, her master. She had simply said to Naaman’s wife: “I wish my master were with the prophet who is in Samaria! Then he would cure him of his leprosy.”
Naaman passed this information on to his master, the king (Ben-hadad), who immediately got off the track by sending Naaman with a letter to the king of Israel, instead of the prophet, requesting that he the king (Joram), cure Naaman of his leprosy. This upset Joram who thought the Syrian king was trying to pick a fight with him. When Elisha heard about it he asked the king to send Naaman to him.
But Naaman, just like his master, thought he had it all figured out even before he had received instruction. But he thought wrongly! LESSON: It is prejudicial folly and shame when a man answers a matter before he even hears it – Prov. 18:13. Naaman drove off in a rage when things did not turn out the way he had thought.
And again, who was it that showed him the way? It was Naaman’s lowly servants who encouraged him to humble himself instead of trying to second-guess the prophet. When Naaman finally cooled off, he went back to the house of Elisha and obeyed. He dipped seven times in the despised Jordan River. Then, when Naaman was cured of his leprosy, he had absolutely nothing about which he could boast! All his worldly attainments, his greatness, his might, his being a valiant warrior, all amounted to nothing. He was humbled and could only say, “Now I know there is no God in all the earth but in Israel.”
Lessons to learn: (1) Being strengthened in pride, by some exalted position one may have attained, does not give one the right to presume or to change God’s will. (2) Even Christ took no account of His equality with His Father, but took on the form of a servant in order to do His Father’s will – Phil. 2:5-6. (3) The apostle Paul counted all his worldly attainments as rubbish in exchange for the knowledge of Christ – Phil. 3:8. He also wrote: “But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world” – Gal. 6:14; Jn. 17:3.