Exhortation for Morning Prayer:
The Lessons: 2 Kgs. 5:19-27, 1 Cor. 5:1-8
Leaven is mysterious. It works silently, slowly, hardly noticeable. But it’s alive, and it’s growing. The question is: what’s growing? A culture of life? Or is it growing death? Is it giving health to the body or is it a cancer?
Perhaps Gehazi didn’t think of his greed as so very bad. He could justify his actions. Naaman was a rich Syrian. He had planned to pay Elisha after all. It wasn’t stealing. Times were hard in Israel in those days. Perhaps he even planned to share it, to feed poor widows going hungry. Was it really right for Elisha to refuse this provision of God? If you think about it for a moment, Elisha’s response might even seem pretty harsh. Gehazi and his children were struck with leprosy, ceremonial uncleanness, excommunicated from temple worship forever.
Paul was dealing with Corinthians famous for fornication; apparently they are even proud that one man was shacking up with his stepmother. Sounds like a Reality TV show, but Paul says that this man needs to be delivered to Satan for the destruction of his flesh. Paul says to pronounce the man leprous, ceremonially unclean, and perhaps his spirit will be saved.
But Paul says the real problem is their glorying. Put away the old leaven he says, and keep the new Passover in Jesus. Of course the first Passover was when Israel left Egypt. When God told Israel to get rid of their leaven, He was commanding them to leave Egypt behind. Start new bread. Start new lives.
Paul commands all Christians to do the same thing. Grasping for popularity or attention is bad leaven. Envying the gifts and accomplishments of others is the leaven of malice. Sketchy movies, porn, coarse jokes, or having an inappropriate relationship is the leaven of Egypt. It grows into Egypt. And do not justify it to yourself: it’s not that big of a deal, it’s really little, really small, doesn’t really affect me, hardly noticeable. Right. That’s the point though: leaven grows.