Despite being a leper, Naaman the Syrian army commander retained his pride. Didn’t his status merit a dramatic healing ceremony from Elijah? “But Naaman went away angry and said, “I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the LORD his God, wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy.” (2 Kings 5:11 NIV) Instead, Elijah had sent a servant to tell Naaman to dip seven times within the Jordan River. How undignified! But when he put aside his prideful anger and obeyed, the cleansed leper’s “I thought” became “Now I know.” “Then Naaman and all his attendants went back to the man of God. He stood before him and said, “Now I know that there is no God in all the world except in Israel. Please accept now a gift from your servant.” (2Kings 5:15 NIV)
This wasn’t the first time someone’s think-so turned out to be wrong.
When Abraham and Sarah travelled to the Philistine city of Gerar, Abraham told King Abimelech that Sarah was his sister (just as he had done in Egypt a few years earlier). Abimelech promptly took Sarah into his harem, but the Lord just as promptly ordered him to return her to her husband. The outraged king demanded an answer from Abraham: “What have you done to us?” Abraham’s excuse was, “I said to myself, ‘There is surely no fear of God in this place, and they will kill me because of my wife.” (Genesis 20:1-11 NIV). He thought, “I said to myself,” but was fearfully wrong.
Looking back at the time Paul had been a Jesus-hating abuser of Christians, he said, “I too was convinced that I ought to do all that was possible to oppose the name of Jesus of Nazareth.” (Acts 26:9 NIV) Paul had to come to grips with how absolutely wrong he had been.
What a difference between “I thought” or “I said to myself” or “I was convinced” and “Now I know!” The dividing line: Learning and obeying God’s will. “We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands.” “Those who obey his commands live in him, and he in them. . . .” “This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome,” (1John 2:3; 3:24; 5:3 NIV)