Can you remember the first time you experienced cruelty? I can. I was just a little kid. An older boy in my neighborhood came up to me and asked me if “I had ever seen a match burn twice?” I was trusting, naïve, curious and intrigued. I said, “No.” He proceeded to light a new match, blow it out and hold the still burning match to my skin. I never forgot the lesson and I still remember his name. Cruelty has a way of permanently encoding itself in the memory as do those who perpetrate it. I should know, I have experienced a lot of it.
I find that it’s not the meanness of evil people that confuses us. It is the kindness. I never used to understand this proverb: “A righteous man cares for the needs of his animal, but even the kindest acts of the wicked are cruel.” Proverbs 12:10 How can kindness be cruelty? Kindness is cruelty when it is used to draw us close so that we may be used, manipulated, deceived and further exploited by an evil person. Evil people are experts in cruelty. They know how to take poison and serve it up like the most delicious dessert you have ever tasted. There are both men and women out there who have sucked in a spouse with their “false kindness” and who have been eating them alive from the inside out ever since. Of all predators, the human predator is the worst.
Does a match burn twice? No. For cruel people it burns for a lifetime.