“Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.”
– Romans 12:21
Ten words. That’s it. In these powerful and purposeful 10 words, we find an omission and commission that frames our purpose.
We have spent years hearing what “not to do”. Often these are religious preferences instead of Biblical precepts. We fight the battle of right doing verses right being. Often what overcomes us needs to be overcome . . . but we don’t know how. We are surrounded with guilt instead of surrendering to grace. Paul gives a powerful exhortation that defines our responsibility to flee and to fight. This strategy enables us to engage in significant Kingdom living.
Our Stand. Step 1. Do not be overcome by evil. Be opposed to it. There is no doubt . . . the deceiving enemy comes to steal, kill and destroy. (John 10:10). This “angel of light” will assassinate your assurance in The Almighty. He will cause you to doubt your Deliverer and your deliverance. There are ten thousand ways that he will use to tear down a testimony. The apostle John sums them up as giving into pleasure, possessions or pride. (1 John 2:15-16) It may be anxiety (1 Pet 5:7), worry (Phil 4:6), discouragement (2 Cor 1:4), outbursts of anger (Eph 4:26), or talking condemningly about others (Eph 4:29). Each is an enterprising effort of the enemy to eliminate our effectiveness. We must not give in. We must resist. (1 Pet 5:9) We must be an opposition to evil.
Our Strategy. Step 2. Overcome evil with good. Someone wrote, “The Christian’s posture is not a defensive one. We are to be overcomers, not merely survivors”. It’s not passive, it’s purposeful. It’s not intuitive, it’s intentional. We’re not on defense, we’re on offense. Have hope . . . the gates of hell will not be able to withstand against the Church. (Matt 16:18) There is no more effective offense against evil in our lives and in this world than the goodness of our Savior seen in our gracious words and good works. (Matt 5:16) How can we overcome evil with good? Encourage others with the encouragement you have received (2 Cor 1:5), bless you enemies and those who speak evil of you (Rom 12:14), speak words of benefit and blessing (Eph 4:29), work instead of stealing (Eph 4:28), and be kind. (Eph 4:32). It’s not enough to just survive, we must thrive. Let’s not just get through the day, let’s go through. No more coping, but changing. Be an overcomer with goodness.
We do good because we are good. We have been grafted into His goodness. (John 15:1-10)
There are some (people and ministries) that are monuments at not being overcome with evil, yet they are not overcoming evil with good . . . but they emphasize law over love. They promote their separation.
There are some (people and ministries) that are movements of overcoming evil with good . . . community outreach, feeding opportunities and caring for the poor . . . but sin is tolerated under grace. They promote their sacrifice.
To live the love of Christ and live as salt and light, there must be an aggressive balance for both . . . Opposing and Overcoming.
Resolve to resist the darkness and respond with the Light.
“Bless your enemies; no cursing under your breath. Laugh with your happy friends when they’re happy; share tears when they’re down. Get along with each other; don’t be stuck-up. Make friends with nobodies; don’t be the great somebody. Don’t hit back; discover beauty in everyone. If you’ve got it in you, get along with everybody. Don’t insist on getting even; that’s not for you to do. ‘I’ll do the judging,’ says God. ‘I’ll take care of it.’ Our Scriptures tell us that if you see your enemy hungry, go buy that person lunch, or if he’s thirsty, get him a drink. Your generosity will surprise him with goodness. Don’t let evil get the best of you; get the best of evil by doing good.” (Romans 12:14-21 MSG)