The story of Naaman the Syrian army commander being healed of leprosy is found in 2 Kings 5:1-19.
Elisha was the prophet who told Naaman how to be healed but it was Naaman’s little maid whose witness led him to Elisha. This little girl had been captured when the Syrians raided her village and was taken from her home and forced to work in Naaman’s household. And it was there that she set us a remarkable example of a Christ-like life and witnessed to God’s grace and power 850 years before Jesus came.
She wonderfully demonstrates 4 attitudes and characteristics of the Christian life that the Holy Spirit endeavours to grow in each of us. They are; Fortitude; Forgiveness; Faith and finally, Compassion and love.
The dictionary defines fortitude as ‘showing courage in the face of pain or adversity.’
This little girl without doubt had been through a very traumatic time. She’d been ripped from her home and family and forced into service in the home of her enemy. There she showed tremendous courage and obviously continued to display the type of fortitude which is rooted in the deep assurance that in whatever circumstances we find ourselves we are always in God’s care; and that underneath and roundabout are the everlasting arms of our Heavenly Father even when our enemies seem to have triumphed over us.
Next forgiveness; She could so easily have looked at Naaman and said; “I see Naaman’s got leprosy, that’s great! That’ll be God’s judgement on him for what he’s done to me. I hope he slowly rots and dies an agonizingly slow death! And may his family rot as well.” But she didn’t. She’d clearly dealt with any bitterness she could have justifiably felt but to the contrary, her actions showed that she had forgiven her captors.
So we come to the third Christian virtue she displayed which is faith. When she told her mistress there was a prophet in Israel who could heal her master of his leprosy she showed she had a living faith in the living God and that faith was so great that she knew God’s love and power extended even to an idolatrous Gentile.
Finally she could have kept the knowledge of and her faith in the love and grace of God to herself but she didn’t. When she said to her mistress “If only my master were with the prophet who is in Samaria! For he would heal him of his leprosy.” She was displaying not only forgiveness and faith but compassion and love.
By her amazing display of Christian virtue Naaman’s little maid, who lived over 800 years before Jesus came, challenges us as 21st century Christians to examine ourselves and to see how well we who claim to have the Holy Spirit living within us, are following her example and displaying the Christian virtues of fortitude, forgiveness, faith, compassion & love in an alien world.