At the end of the twelfth chapter of Romans, Paul makes this one statement.
“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
It is such a simple yet loaded statement.
So how did he get to it? What leads up to that statement?
What Paul writes in this chapter are practical quick one-liner statements concerning how Christians are expected to behave. In high-level terms, Christians are to present themselves as living sacrifices to God by not being conformed to this world. We are to transform our thinking to the spiritual, proving what the will of God is. On a more personal level, each person is to fulfill their function in the church of Christ no matter what that may be. Each person is to show genuine love hating what is evil. Each person is to love their brethren list family showing preference to one another in honor. Each person is to serve the Lord with diligence and fervency. Each person is to rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, devoted to prayer, sharing with those in need, and be hospitable. (Romans 12:1-12).
Here is where I think we really struggle… Verses 13-21 tells how we are to respond to evil. This is a timely lesson for me. I see evil everywhere. Do you? Reality check: The world sees evil, too, and it is watching us to see how we respond to it. Briefly, Paul says seven statements that that lead up to the one final push to how we as Christians should respond to evil:
- Bless those who hurt you and don’t curse them (12:14).
- When someone else is happy, rejoice with them, and when they are sad, show compassion (12:15).
- Be on equal ground with everyone, and don’t think yourself as better than everyone else (12:16).
- Don’t get people back when they have hurt you (12:17).
- Don’t fight, be at peace with everyone (12:18).
- Again, don’t get people back even when they deserve it. Instead, let God handle it (12:19).
- Be kind to those that are evil and hurt you (12:20).
Finally, our primary thought for today, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
Good prevails. Good is victorious! Good is good all the time! It might be tempting to use evil to get back at evil. But clearly, this passage teaches us to use good to overcome evil. That is why we have to transform our minds to think not as the world thinks but to think about a spiritual, Christian, godly response to evil.
Maybe these are things we need to work on?
I love you,