READ: 2 Kings 1-3, Psalm 107, Matthew 18, 1 Timothy 6
There is a bit of a dearth of honesty in our age. Advertising lies. Hollywood lies. Lying is not new; humanity just seems to get more and more bold in repeating what is untrue. Part of the joy of little children is the shock of unfiltered truth. The Bible often gives similar surprises. Elisha is on his way to Bethel when some young people begin to mock him (nothing new under the sun) and his bald head. Then this delightfully candid narration: “So he turned around and looked at them, and pronounced a curse on them in the name of the Lord” (2 Kings 2:24). A curse in the name of the Lord! We do not usually associate cursing and the Lord – but 42 youths got mauled by two mamma bears for their irreverence.
Godly cursing is not profane or vulgar, but it does pronounce discipline and consequences for those who act inappropriately. Jesus instructed this in Matthew 18:15-17 when He gives instructions on how to correct an errant friend. If the friend does not respond to private, plural, and then church correction, he or she is to “be to you like a heathen and a tax collector.” Again, not words we usually associate coming from Jesus’ mouth, but there they are — the “cursing” (consequences) of God for those who act inappropriately.
The corpus of Scripture is very clear that God is merciful, expects us to be also, and gets very irritated when we are unmerciful (Matt. 18:34), so Godly cursing must be infrequent and cautiously applied. All the same there is a time to pronounce the wrath of God and the consequences of sin — this, too, is in the spirit of Jesus. We interpret the verses about two or three gathering and agreeing on earth in Jesus’ name as only referring to “receiving” (vv. 19-20). To ask “in Jesus’ name” is to ask in His spirit, namely to ask for the things that He wants. When we ask for what Jesus wants, of course He delights to answer. This is why praying Scripture is so important and so potent. When we pray Scripture, we have deep confidence we are praying what God wants and therefore certainly our requests will be answered. To ask for what Jesus wants must also include (occasionally) God’s curses – His punishment and consequences on those who are inappropriate.
There is great power when we come together agreeable to one another and to the Spirit of Jesus. This double harmony (between the supplicants themselves and the supplicants and the Savior) gives us the authority to ask boldly and the protection from asking wrongly. When the body agrees that God’s consequences should be asked for, it protects the individual from vendettas or revenge. God’s consequences are intended to heal. They are by design both a last resort and a final reach of love. Let us be honest and loving enough with one another to declare (and enact) God’s consequences for man’s inappropriate behavior.