Living the transformed life is not an easy task. As we’ve walked through these twelve verses in the twelfth chapter of Romans, I find I could spend a year just trying to focus on or live by one of these precious gems. Living out a sincere love is hard enough, but as is evident by the number of verses dedicated to the challenge, facing evil with goodness obviously takes the cake.
Paul’s reminded us to let God take care of any ideas of revenge we might have. We need to focus on living at peace with everyone, even our enemies. We can do this by doing good to them, even when they want to harm us.
It’s the final verse of this passage that sums it all up:
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.*
A picture comes to mind — two people fighting. Both are pushing at the other with an equal amount of strength. The pain inflicted on one is the same as on the other, because when one hits, the other hits back with the same force. No one is winning. Both are suffering.
Then it happens — one lowers his hands, allowing a final blow to come. Falling to the ground, the match is over.
Who won? The one who hit last or the one who allowed the fight to end?
Another picture comes to mind — it is of an innocent man, hanging on a cross. Satan thought he won the match that day, but oh, how he was mistaken. The one who laid down his life had the final victory.
We cannot, in our own strength, overcome the evil we will face in this life. Thank God, we don’t have to. Jesus has already won the ultimate battle, which allows us, by the power of his Spirit, to do good to our enemies, as Jesus taught us:
Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you.*
Jesus said in this world we will have tribulation — we will be faced with evil and those who want to do us evil — but then he said, “but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world!”
In him we can be overcomers too.
Grace and Peace
*Romans 12:21 (NIV)
*Luke 6:27-31 (NIV)