Romans 12:21, Words to Live By

Photo Credit: Lyndsey B.

Most of us Christians have a favorite Bible verse and sometimes even a favorite book in the Bible.  For me that Book is Romans, second only to Proverbs.  I love Proverbs because of all of the wisdom that can be found there but Romans contains so many foundational Christian principles, practical truths which, when followed make for a more joyful and peaceful existence.  One such principle, one which I endeavor to live by can be found in Romans 12:21 which states “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (NKJV). Adherence to this principle is desperately needed in our world today. 

My Pastor, Dr. Dharius Daniels teaches us that there are essentially two ways to handle and/or respond to any situation; cultures way or the King’s way, the King being Jesus.  According to culture, when someone does you wrong, hurts, harms or disrespects you in any way, the goal is to get even and attempt to do the same or worse to them.  There have been neighborhood wars, family feuds, ethnic brawls and much pain and bloodshed all in the name of retaliation and vengeance. The only thing that accomplishes is starting a vicious cycle of brutality and death. 

Now, I know that when physical harm is done to oneself or a loved one the initial response is usually one of anger accompanied by thoughts of vengeance. But for those of us who call ourselves Christians, those of us for whom Jesus is a role model, we may start there but we must not stay there. You see, not you nor I, nor anyone we know nor anyone who has preceded us in death has endured as much pain, suffering, brutality and degradation as Jesus.  And yet on the cross, in the midst of His agony He was moved with compassion and interceded for the very ones responsible for His suffering by asking God to forgive them because they didn’t know what they were doing (Luke 23:34).  Jesus was able to do what many of us cannot, and that is to see beyond the person who does the bad deed to the real source behind it all, our number one enemy, the evil one aka Satan.

The Bible tells us that our fight is not with those of “flesh and blood” but with the evil one and his cohorts (Ephesians 6:12). This is not to mean that people who harm others should just get a pass, not at all.  But justice is the order of the day, not vengeance which is the purview of God anyway (Deuteronomy 32:35, Romans 12:19, Hebrews 10:30).  Matthew Henry, in his commentary says it very well “…in all strife and contention, those that revenge are conquered, and those that forgive are conquerors”.  I know from personal experience that this is NOT easy.  But God wants us to have a pure heart AND clean hands. Not hands bloodied with vengeance and retaliation.  So in order to be in right standing with God and for your own peace of mind, choose to overcome evil by walking in love and forgiveness.  You will be glad you did.

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