Naaman, the man Elisha healed of leprosy, seems to his peers to be self-made. His successes on the battlefield have earned him great honor and the favor of the king (2 Kings 5:1). In spite of all Naaman’s successes, he still has leprosy. Like everything else in his life, he believes that if he is going to enjoy a cure, he must make it happen himself. That is why Naaman feels it necessary to pay Elisha for his miraculous work and is so disappointed when offered too simple a cure. Naaman prefers earning over receiving unmerited kindness.
I don’t think Naaman is that unique. When we read about Naaman’s riches being refused and Naaman rebuked for his sadness over a simple cure, the scripture challenges us alongside of Naaman. In contrast to Naaman, we ought to receive God’s good gifts in humility by putting away our persistent belief in the necessity of earning. Much of what we enjoy in life we did not earn, and the best of God’s gifts—for example, salvation and communion with God—cannot be earned. Let us put away our tendencies to try to earn everything, so that we might begin receiving God’s free kindness with greater gladness.