I have been spending the week at a camp with 4th-6th graders. These are children who are full of curiosity, energy and, like sponges, soak up behaviors all around them.
They are also at a stage in life where they very much obsess on fairness, mocking and vengeance if left to their own devices. Phrases like, "Let's get them back for what they did to us!" and "That's not fair!" are common.
They, like us, laugh at another's misfortune at times, especially when the misfortune comes upon someone who is weaker, helpless or outside the group. It is not a lovely attribute, this mocking, this gloating, this derisive laughter.
Often camp counselors and directors have to step in and put an end to this behavior. Once it starts, it is hard for the mocker to self discipline.
Obadiah, the prophet, stands among the people of Israel and says, "Do not laugh over the misfortunes of Judah." Remember that you are related! You come from the same family. This kind of sibling rivalry must stop.
We are all called to be "Obadiahs"--servants of YHWH---ones who recognize the evil mocking tendency in each and everyone of us. That vengeful trait which cuts another down to crawl a bit higher her back. The ones who stand back with whispering lips and chuckling diaphragms while another struggles in the lime light created by our green envy or pride.
We can recognize it in others. Can we catch ourselves in the act and stop immediately? If we can't, we will never be able to fulfill the will of God.
Cain asked, "Am I my brother's keeper?" He thought this was a rhetorical question. He thought the answer was an obvious, "No way!"
God answered just the opposite.
Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless;Obadiah 1:3-4
maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed.
Rescue the weak and needy;
deliver them from the hand of the wicked.
God answers with a resounding, "Yes!"