Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Tolerance (The Good Kind)

"And Elijah said unto Elisha, Tarry here, I pray thee; for the LORD hath sent me to Bethel. And Elisha said unto him, As the LORD liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee. So they went down to Bethel." (2 Kings 2:2)

Tolerance can be either a sign of weakness or a sign of strength. When truth or principle is set aside for the sake of peace, or when sinful or criminal behavior is permitted in the name of compassion, then tolerance becomes a stain on the character of either a man, woman, or nation. On the other and, in the case of Elisha, his willingness to befriend the moody, argumentative, and often demanding Elijah is an example of strength of character.

The prophet, Elijah, was always making waves, literally, right up to the end of his life (v. 8). But one thing could be said of this man: God chose to speak through him. And if that draws you to someone, you, too, are more apt to be tolerant of eccentric, or even abrasive behavior, in that individual.

Elijah may not have known exactly when God would take Elijah from this life to the next, but one thing was for sure: he was going to be there when it happened. Three times on this day he promised Elijah, "I will not leave thee." And when the sons of the prophets tried to convince him he was wasting his time on a loser, Elisha's reply was, "Mind your own business" (v. 5). He was not intimidated by ministerial peer pressure; for besides his devotion to Elijah, he had another motive.

Elisha wanted a "double portion" of the spirit of Elijah—not his personality (for sure!), or his communication skills, or even his knowledge—but his spirit. The spirit that dared to speak what others might know but were unwilling to say. In short, the courage to say, "Thus saith the Lord," if He truly had said something. And  as you know, Elisha was rewarded with exactly what he asked for, and for which he was willing to wait.

If you are have someone in your life whom God uses to stir your soul, bless your heart, and yes, even rattle your cage, consider yourself blessed, whether he or she is near or far away. Learn from him or her, no matter the inconvenience, irritation, or intimidation by well-meaning friends. Do you think Elisha ever regretted having followed the crotchety, old prophet, tolerant—yes, tolerant— of his disposition and demands? No, in fact, I'm sure Elisha blessed the day they met and spoke of having been there for Elijah's miraculous chariot ride to Heaven till the day he himself died.

Who knows; maybe you will be rewarded like Elisha was, of whom it was said, "The spirit of Elijah doth rest on Elisha" (v. 15)

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