2 Kings 5:20 (ESV)
Gehazi, the servant of Elisha the man of God, said, “See, my master has spared this Naaman the Syrian, in not accepting from his hand what he brought. As the Lord lives, I will run after him and get something from him.”
Don’t we wrestle with grace? Don’t we especially wrestle with God’s grace on others? Don’t we especially, strongly struggle with God’s grace shown to others when they do not end up doing what we do or thinking what we think?
Elisha’s servant, Gehazi, could not stomach what God did for Naaman the Syrian. To Gehazi, Syrians were bad guys. Naaman was a high-ranking bad guy. And when Naaman came to Elisha to seek help from God, Elisha just healed him. Yes, there was a bit about Naaman humbling himself and receiving the gracious gift of God by allowing himself to be bathed in the Jordan river, but to Gehazi, this simply did not cost Naaman enough.
Look at what Gehazi said above. Gehazi determined that Naaman did not pay enough for the grace he received. To Gehazi, the right thing to do was to run after Naaman and “get something from him.” Gehazi just could not let grace be grace.
Do we do what Gehazi did? When we see someone converted to faith, can we let them grow in Christ? Is it enough for us that they receive mercy, that they begin to love Christ, and that they begin to obey his commands? Do we feel that we need to get something from others, perhaps even things God did not require?
What is your pet project as a believer? What area are you strongly convicted toward? Is it a particular doctrine that every believer needs to come to or else—Calvinism, anything but Calvinism, continuationism, cessationism, complimentarianism, plurality of elders, congregationalism? Is it a particular ministry—orphan care, urban care, international disaster relief, stopping trafficking? Is it a particular ministry practice—church planting, church revitalization, contemporary music, classic hymns, home-schooling, public-schooling for the sake of evangelism, moms staying home with the kids, moms working outside the home?
I personally believe that there is a right and perhaps even a wrong in each category that I listed above. However, not everything listed above is a doctrinal certainty. Some of the things above are things about which well-meaning, solid-thinking, Bible-believing Christians will disagree. And, when we disagree, it is possible that somebody is wrong. But, and this is the important question, what do we need to do with them? Do we need to run after them to get proper thinking out of them? Do we need to chase them down to force them to not only obey Jesus’ commands, but to also obey those commands in exactly the same way that we obey them ourselves?
Don’t get me wrong; I’m not going all post-modern and anti-theological. I have opinions about what is right, and they are strong ones. But I am also learning at this point in my life as a believer that not everybody is going to be passionate about the same things I am passionate about. It is actually OK for me to love someone while disagreeing with them about certain doctrines. It is even OK for me to learn from somebody with whom I disagree. And I believe that this all has something to do with allowing others to have on their lives the same grace of God that I have on mine.
So, think well before you decide to chase down another believer. Think well about whether or not you are trying, like Gehazi, to “get something from them,” because, perhaps, you have not seen them do enough to join the club. Oh yes, work to make disciples. Yes, help younger believers to embrace right doctrine. Yes, help people to take part in right spiritual practices. But, be careful that you are not, in the process, calling them to do more than obey Jesus, but instead to obey Jesus in your way that matches your particular personality and shape.