Overcoming Evil with Good

Overcoming Evil with Good

Romans 12:21

  • “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

After he gives a series of admonitions to the saints in Rome (Rom. 12:9-14), Paul goes on to direct them how to respond to those who persecute them. They are to “bless” their persecutors (v. 14) and not pay them back with evil for evil (v. 17). They are not to take revenge in their own hands but allow God to exercise vengeance (v. 19). He then explains the amazing way we are to treat those who mistreat us: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head” (v. 20). Feed our hungry enemy? Give drink to our thirsty enemy? This is the exact opposite from the world’s ways. Most people want to “get even” with those who hurt them. They want revenge. Even when nothing overt is done, most people have an inner hatred and resentment toward those who would bring suffering into their lives. On a national scale, entire countries can develop a hateful attitude and vengeful spirit toward their enemies. Think of the conflicts between the nations of the world and the wars that have arisen throughout history.

The Christian’s attitude is the very opposite from that of the world. Paul says we are to bless our persecutors. We are not to be “overcome by evil,” but rather “overcome evil with good” (Rom. 12:21). The apostle is merely echoing the words of the Lord Jesus: “I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you” (Luke 6:27-28; cf. Matt. 5:38-48; 1 Thess. 5:15; 1 Peter 3:9). If we truly love those who hate us, we will do good to them, bless them, and pray for them.

This attitude of good will is seen in all of our relationships. It will be seen on the job: Do we seek to do good to an overbearing manager? It will be seen in the neighborhood: Do we try to live peacefully with and do good toward a mean and belligerent neighbor? It will be seen in the extended family: Do we try to do good to parents, brothers, sisters, cousins, uncles, aunts and in-laws who oppose our commitment to Christ Jesus? As Christians, we seek to obey the revolutionary principle of not being overcome by evil, but overcoming evil with active goodwill and good deeds.

Richard Hollerman

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