Big Things, Little Things

An Extemporaneous Sermon by the Rev. James P. Cooper

And his servants came near and spoke to him, and said, “My father, 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, ‘Wash, and be clean’?” 2KI 5:13

  1. Introduction
  2. Naaman, and important officer in the Syrian Army, comes down with leprosy
  3. This would have profound effects on his career
  4. He is unable to find a cure
  5. A Hebrew slave tells him about Elisha
  6. His king gives him permission to enter Israel (they are enemy nations)
  7. And he first approaches the king of Israel with a letter from the king of Syria
  8. The king of Israel is astonished, certain that they are spoiling for a fight
  9. Elisha sent word to send Naaman to him.
  10. Naaman went to Elisha expecting a big reception, a lot of fuss
  11. But he humbled himself, and did wash in the Jordan
  12. And in being healed, he testified to the power of Jehovah
  13. Usually we focus on the Leprosy and the miraculous cleansing
  14. Leprosy represent profanation

III.             This time we focus on the “big thing” that Naaman wanted.

  1. Naaman was a commander, a rich man
  2. He thought a lot of himself — he was PROUD
  3. And so when he had a crisis in his life
  4. a) Angry
  5. b) Denial — tried to carry on as if nothing was wrong

(1)             But the other officers wouldn’t have it

(2)             When he feared that he was going to loose the position that made him PROUD

  1. c) Bargaining

(1)             He was even willing to go to a prophet in Israel

(a)              Something far beneath him

(i)                But he was PROUD of the humility this showed

(2)             But when he was told to wash in the Jordan, that was too much

(a)              The river Jordan was no more healing than the rivers of Babylon

(b)             But, he was reminded that he had been willing to do a big thing,

(i)                Why not try a little thing?

  1. d) Acceptance

(1)             He obeyed the Word of the Lord in just this little thing.

(a)              and he was healed

(b)             NOT by the waters, but by his OBEDIENCE

  1. The same story is told in the New Testament
  2. The widow, quietly putting two mites in the poor box
  3. When she herself qualified to be supported FROM the box!
  4. A little thing — two mites
  5. a) of far more value because it comes without PRIDE
  6. The Pharisees making their big contributions
  7. Praying on the street corners, PROUD of their humility
  8. a) Thanking God that they are “not like other men.”
  9. The Lord ends this parable with the reminder to be “as children.”
  10. Pride
  11. We sometimes excuse the actions of others because, we say, they are “PROUD”
  12. But does the Word ever justify this?
  13. AC 1321: Pride = “worship of self.”
  14. AC 8744: When a person is not regenerate, he places all good in pride.…
  15. DP 298:3: The intellectual proprium is pride from the love of self.  These two latter are like consorts; and their marriage is called the marriage of evil and falsity.
  16. Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit
  17. The one sin that cannot be forgiven
  18. Because the person cannot humble Himself before the Lord to ask to be forgiven
  19. Conclusion
  20. We know from the Word that the origin of disease is in hell
  21. We know from science that anger and anxiety can cause physical illness.
  22. Naaman is a symbol for the disease of the mind that is caused by pride.
  23. Which we all suffer from to some degree
  24. Healing could only occur when he humbled himself, not before men, but before God

AC 9377:  Without humiliation, the Lord cannot be worshipped; for the reason that the Divine of the Lord cannot inflow into a proud heart, that is, a heart full of the love of selfAmen.


1st Lesson:  2 Ki 5:1-15

Now Naaman, commander of the army of the king of Syria, was a great and honorable man in the eyes of his master, because by him the LORD had given victory to Syria. He was also a mighty man of valor, but a leper. {2} And the Syrians had gone out on raids, and had brought back captive a young girl from the land of Israel. She waited on Naaman’s wife. {3} Then 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.” {4} And Naaman went in and told his master, saying, “Thus and thus said the girl who is from the land of Israel.” {5} Then the king of Syria said, “Go now, and I will send a letter to the king of Israel.” So he departed and took with him ten talents of silver, six thousand shekels of gold, and ten changes of clothing. {6} Then he brought the letter to the king of Israel, which said, Now be advised, when this letter comes to you, that I have sent Naaman my servant to you, that you may heal him of his leprosy. {7} And it happened, when the king of Israel read the letter, that he tore his clothes and said, “Am I God, to kill and make alive, that this man sends a man to me to heal him of his leprosy? Therefore please consider, and see how he seeks a quarrel with me.” {8} So it was, when Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had torn his clothes, that he sent to the king, saying, “Why have you torn your clothes? Please let him come to me, and he shall know that there is a prophet in Israel.” {9} Then Naaman went with his horses and chariot, and he stood at the door of Elisha’s house. {10} And Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, “Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored to you, and you shall be clean.” {11} But Naaman became furious, and went away and said, “Indeed, I said to myself, ‘He will surely come out to me, and stand and call on the name of the LORD his God, and wave his hand over the place, and heal the leprosy.’ {12} “Are not the Abanah and the Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them and be clean?” So he turned and went away in a rage. {13} And his servants came near and spoke to him, and said, “My father, 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, ‘Wash, and be clean’?” {14} So he went down and dipped seven times in the Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God; and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean. {15} And he returned to the man of God, he and all his aides, and came and stood before him; and he said, “Indeed, now I know that there is no God in all the earth, except in Israel; now therefore, please take a gift from your servant.”

2nd Lesson:  Luke 18:9-17

Also He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: {10} “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. {11} “The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men; extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. {12} ‘I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’ {13} “And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ {14} “I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” {15} Then they also brought infants to Him that He might touch them; but when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them. {16} But Jesus called them to Him and said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God. {17} “Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.”

3rd Lesson:  AC 8678

That “to deal proudly” denotes the endeavor and the force used to rule, is because this endeavor and the consequent force are in all pride, for pride is to love self more than others, and to set self above them, and to wish to exercise command over others; and they who wish this also despise others in comparison with self, and also persecute from hatred and revenge those who set themselves above them, or do not pay them respect.

The love of self, which is pride, is of such a quality that so far as the rein is given it, it rushes on, growing step by step to the utmost of the ability that is granted to it, until at last it lifts itself to the very throne of God with the desire to be in His stead. Such are all who are in hell.  That they are such is perceived from their endeavor from there, and also from their dangerous hatreds and direful revenges one against another for the sake of rule.  This endeavor is what is restrained by the Lord, and is meant by “the head of the serpent which the seed of the woman shall trample on” (n. 257).

[2] That pride of heart, which is the love of self, repels from itself the Divine, and removes heaven from itself, can be plainly seen from the state of reception of the Divine and of heaven, which is a state of love toward the neighbor, and a state of humiliation toward God. So far as a man can humble himself before the Lord, and so far as he can love his neighbor as himself, and, as in heaven, above himself, so far he receives the Divine, and consequently is so far in heaven. From all this it is evident in what state are those who love themselves more than the neighbor, and who “deal proudly over him,” that is, who are in the love of self; namely, that they are in a state opposite to heaven and to the Divine, consequently in the state in which the infernals are.  Amen.

Copyright © 1982 – 2008 General Church of the New Jerusalem.
Page constructed by James P. Cooper
Page last modified  November 15, 2008

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