“BEHOLD, I THOUGHT”
“BEHOLD, I THOUGHT”
2 Kings 5:11 “But Naaman was furious and went away and said, ‘Behold, I thought, he will surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, and wave his hand over the place and cure the leper.’” Naaman was a mighty and victorious soldier. One battle that he was not going to win was a personal one with leprosy. A captive servant girl is the hero of this story. It was her faith and compassion that led to finding the prophet of God who would cure Naaman. The prophet, Elisha, sent word for Naaman to dip seven times in the Jordan River. That unusual act was the key to his recovery. It was an act of faith. When Naaman received the word about what he was to do, he went ballistic. This is where our verse is found.
The angry Naaman expected three things to happen. He expected Elisha to show up. He didn’t. He sent a messenger. He expected him to call upon the name of His God in some dramatic fashion. That didn’t happen. He expected Elisha to wave his arms and make the healing a huge event. He didn’t do that. He didn’t even show up. A messenger came. The word was to dip in the dirty Jordan River seven times. There was no fanfare about that. This wasn’t the way Naaman expected. In a classic statement, he says, “Behold, I thought.” He thought he had figured out how God would cure him. He thought he knew what would be done. It wasn’t the way he thought it would be. The news was disappointing. He became angry.
Folks are still “Beholding I thought,” today. One area, especially this time of the year, that so many “think”, is for a church to simply hand out money to any and everyone who wants some. It typically happens this way. A phone call is made to the church building. A stranger on the line needs help paying rent, light bill, Christmas shopping for grandkids or something like that. They belong to no church. They have never visited the place that they are calling. They have a phone book opened and are randomly calling church after church. The preacher on the other end kindly explains that the church doesn’t just randomly hand out money, especially to strangers, and especially to those who have no connection to the church. Banks don’t do that. Businesses don’t do that. Free money without no strings attached, sounds wonderful. The New Testament has a pattern for what is to be done with the collected contribution. It goes to specific places and people. That pattern is just as important as any other pattern in the Bible. Those thoughts are too foreign and too deep for a person looking for free money. When they find out that it’s not going to happen, they either hang up and go on to calling the next church listing in the phone book, or they get mad. They lecture the preacher on the other end of the phone about Christian duty, even though they have very little understanding about what a Christian is. “Behold I thought…” They thought they knew what a church ought to do. They thought they had God figured out. In their way of thinking, God established the church so people in trouble can come and get free money, without any obligations and commitment and go on their way. Even the Salvation Army makes folks listen to a sermon before they get a free meal.
This, “Behold, I thought,” mentality continues on in other areas. Bring up the sensitive subject of divorce, and every “Behold, I thought,” person comes out of the woodwork. Sweet, mild mannered senior citizens get all fired up if the discussion doesn’t go the way “they think it should.” Bizarre situations, complicated messes and twisted relationships are thrown out on table to be looked at and analyzed in a Bible class. The folks bringing up these sad stories already have a “behold, I thought,” conclusion in their minds. They are wanting affirmation and confirmation of something going on in their families. They are wanting a USDA stamp of approval that Junior can marry once again, for the tenth time, to the love of his life, who has only been married eight times before. The “Behold I thought,” crowd makes loud assertions and sometimes even threatens to leave, if someone would dare say that Junior shouldn’t be getting married. “Behold, I thought…”
The “behold, I thought,” is found in most of us at one time or another. We have heard things, read things, been taught things, assumed things and come with a past, baggage and a load of I think so’s. Most times, once someone is carefully shown things in the Bible, I hear people saying, “I never thought about that before.” They assumed the “Behold, I thought,” was the way it is. When shown, the “behold, I thought,” now becomes, the “Behold, I know.” This is the way to deal with thoughts, assumptions, ideas and concepts that people carry. Open the Bible up. Show them. Take them on a Biblical journey and let them see what the Bible truly teaches. Some get mad. Naaman did when he didn’t get the news he wanted. Some, especially, those with an honest and good heart, will see, learn and change their tune. It will no longer be, “behold, I thought.” It now becomes, “The Bible says.” Their confidence stands where it ought to, upon the word of God.
Naaman finally got cured. The message didn’t change. His stubbornness did. We cannot change the message because people do not like it or they get mad. We cannot change the message because someone thought it ought to be something else. It doesn’t work that way. The word of God never changes. It’s us who must change. That Syrian officer had to travel to the Jordan River and get in it and dip not once, but seven times. When he did, his leprosy went away. He was cured. God knows what He is doing. Listen to God. Follow God.
Biblical ignorance is nearly epidemic today, both in and out of the church. Folks simply do not know the Bible. They “think” they do. They say things that sound “Biblical,” but what they say can’t be found in the word of God. The solution? Open the book. Serious studies of the Bible, more time spent reading it as it is written, letting the Bible form and shape our thinking, that’s the hope and that’s the challenge before us.
Behold I thought, or, this is what the Bible says. Often those two are not the same. Let’s speak as the oracles of God.