21 And the king of Israel said unto Elisha, when he saw them, My father, shall I smite them? shall I smite them?
22 And he answered, Thou shalt not smite them: wouldest thou smite those whom thou hast taken captive with thy sword and with thy bow? set bread and water before them, that they may eat and drink, and go to their master.
23 And he prepared great provision for them: and when they had eaten and drunk, he sent them away, and they went to their master. So the bands of Syria came no more into the land of Israel.
Many had come to find Elisha and bring him to Syria. With God’s help, they were captured and brought to the king of Israel. But instead of killing them as he wanted to do, Elisha convinced him to feed them and then release them. The result was that Syria stopped raiding Israel. We will never end violence with violence. Whether it is a war of words, a war between two individuals, or a war between countries, violence does not bring peace. Love has always been stronger than hate, even though hate is louder! The problem is that someone needs to walk away if the fighting is to stop. We have an idea that walking away is a sign of weakness, but it is really a sign of strength. It takes a big person to walk away. People who walk away are often ridiculed, especially if they are in a position of leadership. There are always people who are willing to encourage violence. I remember an incident that occurred when I was teaching in a high school. One boy had gotten involved with a girl from a rival school and a boy from the rival school came into the school yard at lunch time to ‘have it out.” A group of student from both schools surrounded the two urging them to fight. Unfortunately for them, I was on my way out of the cafeteria and spotted the action. Needless to say, I had no intention of letting any of this happen. I took the student from my school and sent the others away. He wasn’t happy to be brought into the office for punishment, and the others were sorry to have their fun spoiled. Why do we encourage violence? The students who had been in the group and had the misfortune to be in one of my afternoon classes got a lecture. Those who encourage violence are equally responsible. May we learn from Elisha.
Loving God, you want all of your children to live in peace. Help us to be peacemakers and not warmongers. Amen.