Wednesday, March 18, 2015

A truer sense of self-love

"Today I am looking closely at the story of Naaman, captain in the King of Syria's army, and his healing of leprosy.

Naaman expressed many good qualities. He was respected by the King for his military successes and his honorable conduct. Naaman delivered Syria and among the captives brought back was a little maiden. There must have been something special about this child that stood out to him because Naaman gave her into his wife's care as her maid. She may have been a child of Israel because she knew about Elisha, their prophet, and his healing ability.

Naaman was a leper, but it was of slow development. The Syrians did not observe the same rules of the Israelites where a leper was forbidden to come in contact with others. He was beloved of his men and even this little maid cared about him for she told her mistress that he could be healed by Elisha. This information was shared with Naaman.

Not included in our Bible Lesson is what happened next. The King of Syria sends a letter to the King of Israel saying that he is sending Naaman there to be healed of his leprosy. When the King read the letter he rent his clothes as he was upset that he would be expected to use his influence with Elisha for Naaman's benefit. He fears this is a ploy to give Syria a reason to go to war against him. But Elisha hears about this and tells his King to allow the visit so that Naaman can know there is a true prophet in Israel.

So Naaman comes to Elisha in great pomp and circumstance with his horses and chariot and servants. This is a clue to what would need to be changed in Naaman's thinking. He expected to be treated with great respect for his position. Instead, Elisha doesn't even come out of his house, but sends his servant with instructions for what Naaman is to do to get this healing. That must have come as a surprise to him and he throws a temper tantrum. But once again we see how his servants truly cared about him for they dare to approach him and even question his reaction. Wouldn't he have willingly done any great thing asked of him? How then could he deny this simple request to go wash himself in the Jordan river.

How beautifully Mrs. Eddy's words blend with this story.  "Self-love is more opaque than a solid body. In patience obedience to a patient God, let us labor to dissolve with the universal solvent of Love the adamant of error, - self-will, self-justification, and self-love, - which wars against spirituality and is the law of sin and death."  Naaman needed a lesson in humility and when he was willing to do as Elisah asked, he got his healing.

Reading on, we learn that he returned to Elisha and acknowledged "Behold, now I know that there is no God in all the earth, but in Israel", and he offers to pay Elisha. But Elisha refuses the money. Naaman did well to show his gratitude, but Elisha showed that imparting the blessing which he was empowered from on high to bestow, he could receive no personal gain.

What I will take away from this is being careful of how I look for healing. If there is a lesson to be learned, I want to be receptive and obedient.  It is not just about overcoming a physical challenge, it is about examining thought and being willing to change. I want to be 'pure in heart' so that I can see God; Principle, Mind, Soul, Spirit, Life, Truth and Love all around me and love my neighbor as myself. That's the truer sense of self-love.

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