John and Carol Arnott are the Founding Pastors and Presidents of Catch the Fire (formerly known as the Toronto...
Recently, I was reading 2 Kings 5, the story of Naaman the Syrian, whom Elisha healed from his leprosy. I was again captivated by the story and found myself reading it over and over again. The attitude of the little captive Israeli slave girl impressed me.
She was not bitter like most of us would have been but remained cheerful and helpful despite being snatched from her home and family at an early age. When she heard that her master was ill with leprosy, she offered a piece of valuable information to help him. “If only my master were with the prophet in Samaria, for he would heal him of his leprosy.” I pondered this and thought, "If only more believers could be positive and life-giving, even though they may find themselves in dismal circumstances."
"He had to humble himself."
Funny isn’t it, how the little captive slave girl knew about Elisha’s anointing? And isn’t it ironic that Naaman believed her enough to humble himself and ask that the king release him to go to the country he had been defeating in battle to access the power of God?
When the king of Israel received the word that Naaman was coming, he feared the worst. Fortunately, Elisha heard about the incident and sent word to the king. “Let him come to me, and he shall know that there is a prophet in Israel.” Naaman arrived in Samaria with his bags of money, but now the prophet demanded a price that Naaman didn’t want to pay. He had to humble himself. Naaman almost failed to receive healing because he was too proud.
Instead of coming to meet the infamous general in person, Elisha sent an intern with instructions: “Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored to you, and you shall be clean.” Naaman was incensed. “There are much cleaner rivers at home, if I needed to wash and be clean!”
Naaman’s servants wanted him healed and pleaded with him to obey the prophet’s word. “If the prophet had told you to do something great, would you not have done it? How much more then, when he says to you something simple, like ‘Wash and be clean.’”
Naaman humbled himself further and went to the Jordan. I suppose he took off most of his regal robes, exposing himself and the extent of his leprosy, to all his friends and soldiers. Five, six, seven times, he washed; and his flesh became like the flesh of a little child, because he honored the word of God through Elisha’s intern. He almost missed it, but he didn’t. He washed, and was clean. He humbly and thankfully returned to Elisha who took none of his money and sent him on his way one very happy man who is now a serious believer in the Lord. What a powerful witness!
"The better we know someone, the more careful we need to be not to despise the anointing of the Holy Spirit resident inside them."
My thoughts went to the account in Luke 4 where Jesus went to his own hometown of Nazareth and entered the synagogue, as was His custom on the Sabbath day. (It’s a very good custom by the way, since it was good enough for Jesus). He stood up to read Isaiah 61:1-2. “The Spirit of the LORD is upon me, because He has anointed me to preach...to heal...to proclaim liberty...and recovery of sight to the blind . . . and to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD” (NIV).
With all eyes fixed on Him, Jesus announced, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” Most of the folks in the congregation were amazed and transfixed, but then trouble broke loose. People who had known Jesus all His life began asking, “Is this not Joseph’s son?”
In other words, “Hey, wait a minute. We know this kid. This is Joseph’s boy. Who does he think he is?” That’s when Jesus said, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own country, among his own relatives, and in his own house.” Then in Luke 4:27 he reminded them, “There were many lepers in Israel in the time of Elisha the prophet, and none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian.” (NET)
Reading between the lines, Jesus is asking, “Why are the people of God always missing the blessing of God?” Why would foreigners access the anointing before people in Jesus’ own country? There is an old saying, “Familiarity breeds contempt.” I’ve often wondered why it is easier for people to recognize the anointing on someone they don’t know and ignore the anointing in someone they do.
I’ve noticed it in the church, too, and have probably been guilty of it myself. It seems as though when we first meet another Christian, before we see their imperfections, we see the anointing of the Holy Spirit and the qualities we admire about them. However, after a while we begin to see their flaws as we live and walk among them. It is even worse when they offend us. We begin to wonder, how can God use him or her with all those inconsistencies and issues going on in their lives?
I have a friend named George Alfred. We went to high school together. He now attends our church in Toronto. Every now and then, he will crack up laughing saying, “I still can’t believe that you turned out to be a pastor-you of all people!”
Why? Because he knew me after the flesh first, and believe me, it was the flesh! He knew me at my worst, and so it is amusing now for him to see me ‘at my best,’ so to speak. Although it does not seem to be a problem with George, knowing someone after the flesh can get in the way of seeing someone “after the Spirit.”
The better we know someone, the more careful we need to be not to despise the anointing of the Holy Spirit resident inside them. We need to honor the anointing, which is what people do when the ‘prophet’ is from afar. When someone comes into the congregation, whether it is a visitor or a guest speaker, we often see them at their best. Not knowing anything about their weaknesses or their personal lives, it’s easy to see them as God’s anointed servants from whom we can receive life and blessing.
If we are to continue appreciating the gift of God in someone we know, it is important to honor that person rather than despise him. Let’s agree that we are going to honor the anointing that is on God’s servants, especially those who are faithfully serving right under our noses. Don’t disregard the ‘prophet’ who lives next door.
"You are anointed!"
Secondly, let’s honor the anointing on our own pastors and leaders. How often does a Christian pass by the good counsel and ministry of his pastor only to seek out and embrace that of a TV evangelist? Why? Because we are spiritually immature in our perceptions and have not yet learned to discern Jesus Christ’s presence in His body which is the Holy Spirit living in the earthen vessel.
I wonder if that’s what Paul meant when he said, “...For this reason, many of you are weak and sick...because you haven’t discerned the Lord’s body...”? I wonder how often I haven’t been healed because I didn’t recognize the anointing in someone God put around me. You are anointed!
Let’s take this a step further. Honor the anointing on your own life and on your spouse. Do you realize that you are anointed of God? Yes, you, little Christian, you are anointed! In fact, the word “Christian” means ‘little anointed one’ or ‘little Christ one.’ It is time we started taking the Christ within ourselves seriously as well. You, too, hold the treasure of Christ in your ‘earthen vessel.’
I believe that when Elisha realized that Naaman was recognizing his anointing, he knew God was going to do a miracle through him. When Naaman perceived the anointing on Elisha, it actually released the anointing inside Elisha. He told the King of Israel, “Send Naaman to me and he will know that there is a prophet in the land.”
"Let's release the power in each other by bestowing the gift of honor."
Isn’t it time to stop limiting what we receive from the deposit of Jesus Christ in one another? As we decide to bestow honor on the “prophets” among us, recognizing that the anointing that is on them is a gift of God to us, we receive what God wants to give us. What if the answer to your prayer is sitting next to you, but you are too proud to notice?
The key is learning to recognize the whole package and the mystery of the gospel, which is “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” (Colossians 1:27 NIV) Let’s both laugh at the weaknesses of our humanity and marvel that the anointing of the Holy Spirit that lives inside us.
Let’s release the power in each other by bestowing the gift of honor. Perhaps we will begin to see many more miracles, and the many lepers in Israel will also receive their healing words. Don’t let people miss their blessing because of your unbelief and lack of honor, will you?
This archived article was written by John Arnott for release in Jan, 2009. Circumstances and situations may have changed regarding the author, locations and ministries. This content may therefore be outdated or misinformed.
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