"Taming the Bullies"

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By: Elizabeth Marie Rollins

“And the Lord turned the captivity of Job and restored his fortunes, when he prayed for his friends; also the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before.” Job 42:10 (Amplified)

As I scuffed my shoes into the dirt on the fifth grade playground, I felt a blow from behind. Before I could spin around, Rodney had locked his arm around my throat and grabbed a fistful of my hair. I threw my elbows back to find his ribs. He let go, only to come after me again, this time from the front. He clamped both hands on my hair, pulling me forward. I bent over as he led me by the hair. My glasses fell to the ground.

Rodney laughed.

He yanked my hair harder so that I had no choice but to step on my glasses. I knew Momma had scrimped to buy them for me. Anger boiled up in me , so I started swinging wildly at Rodney. He finally let go.

Hate is not a word I was allowed to use growing up, but I can tell you, the feeling in my heart toward Rodney came close to it. Yet the Bible tells us to love our enemies and pray for the ones who persecute us, so I determined to love Rodney by praying for the Lord to bless him. It wasn’t easy, but the more I prayed for Rodney, the more my dislike melted into a Christ-like love.

I prayed for Rodney’s salvation and deliverance from his hurts (because hurt is the fuel of bullies—they are hurting, therefore they hurt others). I don’t know if Rodney ever came to know Jesus. I sincerely hope he did. Years later, a fellow classmate shared insight into Rodney’s tumultuous home life, how his mother ran off and left him to live in a trailer with his drug-dealing father and aunt. Sometime during his high school years, Rodney found himself in the middle of a gunfight and was fatally shot.

It’s never easy to love a bully, but people bully others to hide their own pain. Despite the feelings I might have about their bad attitudes, I am called to show them love, even if it means denying my own desire to give them an earful. Love is the answer to taming the bullies.

Oh, Lord, refresh me in Your love today so that I can show love to others. Remind me when I want to react to someone’s bad attitude that You have called me to love and have placed me in that situation to be a vessel of Your love. Use me, Lord. In Jesus’ name, Amen.


Ponder: Matthew 5:43-47, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even the pagans do that?” (NIV)

Apply: Write down the name of someone who is a bully to you. Then, spend five minutes asking God to bless him/her. Determine, in advance, to show love to this person no matter what.

Share: Do you have a bully in your life? How can you handle them in love?

© 2010 by Elizabeth Marie Rollins. All rights reserved.

Elizabeth Marie Rollins lives in Virginia. Some of her favorite things include the smell of the wind just before a storm, the feel of her momma’s old Bible, Frank Peretti novels, and listening to the crickets at night. This Virginia girl would love to visit just about anywhere in the world, but especially Africa, India, Malaysia, South America and Australia. Her favorite Bible verse is Romans 1:16, which empowers her to share the Gospel unashamedly to a thirsty world.

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