Mercy Versus Mauling
by Melanie Kerr
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Quite a while ago I was reading the story at the beginning of Elisha's ministry - his encounter with the boys that called him "Baldy Head." Elisha cursed them and two bears came out of the woods and mauled forty two youths.
It seems a bit harsh to have a bear mauling all those youths simply because they insulted Elisha. Where does the "turn the other cheek" come in? What Jesus taught hundreds of years later, was what God was saying, so why didn't Elisha turn the other cheek?
I have a tendency to check out what commentaries have to say, and one of them narrowed it down to the look that Elisha gave them. When Elisha looked into the eyes of the boys he saw pure wickedness. There was no shame or remorse or any sign of repentance. The commentary went on to say that the attitude of the boys was not a one off. It was an attitude passed from one generation to another, much like passing on the colour of your eyes. Fathers handed on to their children a total lack of respect for men of God, which they handed on to the next generation. Elisha was simply bringing the cycle to an end.
A few weeks ago I had a particularly unpleasant encounter with a pupil. He had the pleasure of being in all my classes since first year, and had definitely gone "bad". He had got to the stage of being quite unmanageable and was robbing the rest of the class of their opportunity to learn. He had an entourage of groupy girls. I seriously don't know what they saw in him - maybe it the attraction of the "rebel" - but they always defended him when I challenged his behaviour. They would say things like "It's my fault - I spoke to him first…I was winding him up first…I provoked him first…I threw the rubber at him first."
I can remember calling him to where I was standing, not wanting to get the groupies involved. I looked into his eyes. What Elisha saw in those boys, I saw in this pupil. It was the same lack of shame, lack of repentance - a kind of arrogance.
This was a boy that Elisha would have cursed, who would have been mauled by bears. In my humble opinion, he thoroughly deserved to be mauled. One day he may actually encounter an Elisha and end up being mauled.
I thought for a moment whether I could follow Elisha's example and curse the boy. I have actually met Christians who practice cursing, but never tried it myself. Very quickly the Holy Spirit directed me to Luke 6:27-36 which begins with the command to love your enemy and ends with the stipulation to be merciful!
Now, loving your enemies and being merciful might change the enemy and there again it might not! It is not really about changing the enemy - it is about me. My reward is not in seeing a dramatic change come over the boy because I am being loving and merciful - that may happen - it is about me demonstrating to the heavenlies that I am made of different stuff. I am a child of the Most High and I best demonstrate that through the way I treat other people. It is a declaration that saving grace has indeed transformed me.
I didn't particularly want to pray for the boy. OK, he might just be the next Billy Graham. When I finally prayed, it wasn't "Of course, you did." I prayed not because I wanted to (it was most reluctant), not because I think he deserved prayer (he didn't), but because God reminded me that He had shown me mercy. Days later I sat down next to the boy. We talked about things and he listened as I gave my view on how people perceived his behaviour and attitude. Days later, he was back to his obnoxious self, with his groupies defending him. I didn't get a change in his attitude - but I gave him the chance to change. Sometimes that is all we are required to do.
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Very good lesson. I had the same question when I read about the mauling of children. This insight has helped me with some issues that I have been praying on also. Let us love and pray for everyone, especially those that push our buttons. God Bless. Chris
At the age of 17, I was a rebel. I was quite happy to disrupt anything going. I wanted to get back at the world and no GOD was going to stop me. Someone prayed, HE did, and around the same time the Christians decided not to throw pearls before swine any more, I gave my heart to Jesus. They couldn't know the battles fought in the secret of my own personal space, or the way the Holy Spirit used my fears. You just don't know when God will move on a heart. Years later, everyone turned against 'Spider', So far gone that his behaviour matched the spiders web tattooed on his face. Nobidy wanted to know, and I would make a point of telling him about Jesus. He was nasty, blasphemeous and downright horrible. One day that lad took drugs and threw himself under a bus. I am sad, but at least I can rest knowing I did tell him about Jesus, and who really knows what went on inside a hurt and damaged heart. I am so glad you didn't give up, It may be years before you see the fruit of your actions, but God can take hardened hearts and smash them to smithereens. You may have been the first of many hammer blows.
It's difficult to 'bless those who dispitefully use you.' Your classroom depiction gave me a tiny glimpse into the unfathomable love Jesus walked out in His days here...a love drawn God's own throne. I'm so grateful that the Holy Spirit prays when I don't know the words, for with them He taps into the very same love letting it flow to others. Thanks for the gracious reminder.
You have written a wonderful message. Remember, that gang of youth (and the boy you described) were not Christians. The enemy (Satan) was using them to attack Elisha. He gave them that look..he knew where they were coming from. Yes, we are supposed to pray for those who despitefully use us, but we are also supposed to recognize the attacks of the enemy. I was going to preach at a church, and I was standing outside the church entrance holding my Bible under my arm. Here came a young man (we were the only ones outside) and snatched my Bible from under my arm, and said, in a gutteral voice, "He's Dead!". Immediately, I recognized the enemy (it was not the young man) gave him a look, and said "You are wrong. He Lives!" That night in that church, the LORD moved in a glorious way. Thanks for posting this.
Sometimes, it is so hard to accept that some are made for honor and some for dishonor. But it's true because He can't lie and the Word clearly states it. But it isn't for us to decide who will or will not be convicted. So we are called to pray... even for our enemies. Some though, are very obviously driven by a demonic force that we must be aware of and "in" the Word enough to know how to handle it when we do see it. Nothing's changed. And as real as God is, today, yesterday, and forever, we still have a demonic force to deal with. Fortunately, we know that Jesus has already defeated the enemy. It amazes me that the Word says that we will one day judge the angels. We really must get some practice before we get there. We judge not the person, but rather, we discern the spirits. I pray for the divine assistance, for all of us, so that we might be able to discern to the point of setting the people of God free when we meet them and knowing when to just let go and let Him deal with those created for dishonor. (I didn't mean to go on and on there. Compliments -- a very thought-provoking article!)