“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12:21

The first thing that pops into my head when I read this verse is actually a song from Steve Green’s “Hide ‘Em in Your Heart”.  The second thing that I’ve been thinking about lately is that the act of doing good to and praying for someone who hurts us is easily exchanged for the “eye for an eye” mentality. 

Someone says something that we deem “judgmental” and we fly off the handle {and this happens on either side of the argument}. A heinous crime is committed against an innocent person and we cry for revenge. Indignation rises up in me when I see injustice go unpunished. Why does this happen so easily? Simply this: because we’ve fallen short of the glory of God.
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Theologian C.O. Rosenius says in his commentary on Romans, “The inclination toward revenge must be overcome by the goodness of another, the goodness in the heart of God.”

What would happen if instead of seeking revenge or wishing destruction {whether deliberately or subconciously} on our “enemy” for indiscretions committed against us or someone else, we prayed for and sought out opportunities to bless the very ones that have hurt us?

I recently read a publication from Voice of the Martyrs that described persecuted believers in India reaching out to their tormentors, sharing with them God’s Word and message of love. Many of these tormentors have come to Christ. What an example to those of us believers who have had someone spit insults at us for our faith or lifestyle! Although it’s incredibly hard to have compassion on those who do wrong, the Apostle Paul gives us a command in this verse, “…overcome evil with good.”

Rosenius goes on to say, “If your only resources in the battle to overcome evil were your own powers, defeat would come quickly. But if the resources in God’s heart are yours he cleanses you from your sins and gives grace to exercise love toward your neighbor.”

What does this really mean for me? For us?

I must pray daily for the grace and mercy to forgive others, just as I have been forgiven. God is rich in mercy and He calls us to extend that mercy to others. Even when it’s hard. Even when our emotions betray us. Even if no one else seems to want to do it either. 

And in that process, take what is a source of evil and bring from it something good. Scripture’s comfort to us is that “all things work together for good for those who love God.” (Romans 8:28) 

Don’t let the devil win and create bitterness in our hearts! With the Lord’s help and the Spirit’s work, we can choose to do what is noble, pure and excellent. It may take months, years or even decades, but God can create light and beauty out of something dark and terrible. I’ve seen it first-hand. And it’s only the power of God, working through us, that accomplishes what seems beyond comprehension. 

“May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.” 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17

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