I had an interesting and important realization this morning about discipleship. This one truth can have a major effect on how we live our lives.

You are responsible for your own discipleship.

Your rabbi, or teacher, or preacher will pour into you, but if you reject it then it’s your responsibility.

To illustrate this point I’m going to take you a few thousand years back into history, which, when you think about it, is not that far back (only 40ish generations). We’re going to talk about a man named Gehazi.

But first, we need some context.

There was a man named Elijah, one of the great prophets of his day. Elijah spent his life doing the things which God had told him, traveling all throughout the country of Israel and beyond. He did some powerful works and lived a life that was uncomfortable to say the least. When he was exhausted and it was time to train up his replacement, he went up behind a man plowing a field and put his coat upon him. This man’s name was Elisha.

Elisha left what he was doing, said goodbye to his father, and followed Elijah for the rest of Elijah’s days. Everywhere where Elijah went, so too did Elisha and Elisha was known as his assistant. When the day came that Elijah was taken up to be with the Lord, Elisha inherited his spirit and his position as prophet over Israel. From then on, he continued to practice the ministry of the Lord as his master had done, performing many great miracles.

Now we come to Gehazi. From this point on, we are subject to my interpretation of what happened in scripture.

Gehazi was known as Elisha’s assistant. This would indicate that he was following the same path as Elisha had with Elijah. Everywhere one went, so too did the other. Gehazi was likely on track to become the next prophet of Israel. Then enters a man named Naaman who was a commanding warrior from Syria to the north, known throughout the land for his many military victories. Unfortunately, Naaman was afflicted with Leprosy which was detestable and many would have cast him aside as unclean. One day his king sent him down to Israel because he had heard there was a man there to could heal Naaman, his prized warrior.

Naaman brought with him many pounds of silver and gold and other gifts to be given as a reward once his healing was complete. As it turns out, Naaman was healed at the instruction of Elisha. But, when it was time to give the reward to Elisha, it was refused. Elisha said, “As surely as the Lord lives, whom I serve, I will not accept any gifts.” and he sent Naaman on his way.

Now Gehazi thought his master foolish for refusing the gifts and became greedy. He chased after Naaman and told him a lie in order that he might receive a small portion of the gifts that Naaman had brought. Upon arrival at Elisha’s home, after the gifts had been hidden, Gehazi was confronted about where he had been. Elisha knew what he had done and cursed him and his descendants with the same leprosy that Naaman had been cleansed of.

Though scripture indicates that Gehazi remained Elisha’s assistant, he would have been ostracized hence forth. After Elisha died, Gehazi would be forced to live among the beggars at the city gates, forever unclean and untouchable. He who could have been the next prophet of Israel would fall from his place of honor in history to a nobody. All of this for one act of greed, for one act where he set aside his discipleship in order to gain riches.

This is your life, you are the disciple. You are responsible for your action and you are the one who must follow your leader. It’s your discipleship.

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