On that day near the Jordan river Elisha refused the gift of Naaman because he desired above all else for the Glory of the Lord in its fullness to be on display to Naaman, the Syrians, and all those that were with Elisha. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ is free grace. It is not of man’s work, it cannot be bought, it cannot be sold, and all who repent and believe in Christ have freely received it.
But he said, “As the LORD lives, before whom I stand, I will receive nothing.” And he urged him to take it, but he refused. – II Kings 5:16
Why do you serve the Lord? Why do ministers preach His Word? Why do teachers, evangelists, missionaries, Christians, tell the Word of God to the world? Why do parents teach their children about God and His word? Why do you visit the sick? Why do you confess Christ before men?
In Scripture we see two different reasons for service to the Lord: 1) To gain wealth, honor, and power from those who are served; or 2) To bring glory to the Lord.
The Lord through His apostles warned of the first type in many places such as 2 Cor. 11, 2 Timothy 3, Philippians 1, and 2 Peter 2. There are many who after the lusts and covetousness of the flesh pretend to serve the Lord but are really serving their own interests. Paul warned the elders of Ephesus that these types would come in like wolves among the sheep seeking to lead away the elect if they could. From those who seek to increase their own financial and social accounts rather than the glory of the Lord we must turn away.
In contrast, the faithful minister of the gospel seeks to shepherd the flock of Christ, preaching and teaching the full counsel of God, not for a pretense, but that Christ Jesus might be exalted; that the gospel of Jesus Christ, His death and resurrection, His cross, might be our boast; that sinners might come to saving faith in Christ and receive the gift of God, eternal life in Heaven.
The preacher is worthy of His wages for laboring among the flock of Christ (I Cor. 9). He who labors for the Spiritual needs of the flock should of the flock receive his physical sustenance. However, in Ephesus and Corinth, Paul did not receive wages from the local Christians. Why? It seems from Acts and the Epistles (I & 2 Corinthians and Galatians) that these cities were full of fraudulent prophets and apostles who were seeking to defraud the people with their false ministries. So in Ephesus, Paul chose to be a tent maker with Aquila and Priscilla. In Corinth, the text suggests, the support of other churches outside Corinth funded Paul’s ministry in Corinth for some time. This is very much the way missionaries are funded even in the present time. Many churches and denominations such as the Orthodox Presbyterian Church send missionaries to other countries paying them from local church funds so that they do not need to live off of the donations of those they meet on the mission field. This practice resolves two challenges: 1) the challenge of securing enough money from a place with few if any Christians; and 2) the potential accusation of preaching the Word in order to gain wealth from the flock.
What does all of this have to do with Naaman and Elisha?