Lucia's Blog: OVERCOMING EVIL WITH GOOD
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Isaiah 55:8-9

Isaiah 55:8-9

Sunday, June 7, 2020

OVERCOMING EVIL WITH GOOD

"Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.  Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, 'Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.' 20 To the contrary, 'if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head. 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.'"
Romans 12:14, 17-21



Today in June of 2020, everyone seems to be talking about their grievances. Many are nursing grudges of injustice both recent and past. As each one thinks about the slights, insults, and apparent prejudice of others against himself or against those they love, they become angrier and angrier. Wars and bloodshed often spill out of such injured feelings that turn dark descending into the depths of hatred and deep resentment that refuses to heal. Jesus has a better way. He came to the earth, born in a stable, but announced as the Prince of peace. Jesus teaches us to overcome evil with good. Let us drink deeply of the healing waters of Jesus’ counsel.

One of the most deadly sins in the world is hate, whether it is in our nation, the community, the home, or yes even the church.  So the question at stake is:  How should we overcome our enemies? How should we overcome hatred?  Indeed, handling our enemies is no easy piece of cake!  How should we treat those who mistreat and abuse us?  How should Christians relate to the evil world around them?  Our Lord Jesus teaches us to love our enemies (Matthew 5:44). Do you find it difficult to love and be around your enemies, even your persecutors?  Jesus commands us to love them!  What should we do when we as Christians encounter opposition and hate?  Jesus commands us to endure ridicule when we’re attacked by our faith.  Is it easy or even possible to overcome our enemies through our Lord’s wisdom and comfort? 

Sadly, we live in a world where evil and evil-doers seem to rule, and as long as we remain on earth, we must continue to live in it, whether we want it or not.  It is part of living in this world of darkness without God.  Living in a world where evil and hatred seem so strong, one finds it hard to find peace.  God is the giver of peace.  He is the God of peace that will soon crush Satan and his kingdom of darkness (Rom. 16:20). God has brought peace through His beloved Son.  Thus He commands us to have peace with all men (Rom. 14:19; Heb. 12:14).  

We, children of Light, are commanded to live peaceably, promote peace, and be at peace with others.  Thus we must make an effort to strive for peace and do what we must do to be at peace with believers and unbelieversThe Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ is a Gospel of peace.    Consider some Scriptures that teach us how we should deal with evil and hatred, and treat those who mistreat us and abuse us.


I.   OVERCOMING OUR ENEMIES:

Romans 12:14, 17-21 provides us with some fundamental principles about how children of Light, Christians, must handle evil and the evildoers around us.  The Word of God instructs us to be careful with our words and our actions to adorn the Gospel Message.  We must be Christ-like even amid evil and persecution.  We must not take vengeance on our enemies, but rather we must choose to love them, forgive them, and go the extra mile to be a blessing to them.  In doing this, we may rest assured we will overcome evil with good. 

  • Repay No Evil For Evil:  (Romans 12:17)
God has commanded us not to take revenge on those who hurt us or mistreat us. To the contrary, He wants us to bless and not curse themIndeed, that is difficult to do when we are hurt and badly treated!   But two wrongs don’t make a right.  To fight back, even to death, is the way of the animal kingdomTo hit, kick or bite back is the way of small children.  To “fight fire with fire” is the way of the unbelievers, those who are worldly-minded.  The world’s thinking is, “I am just giving him a dose of his own medicine.”  The world reviles in return when they are reviled.  But Jesus teaches a different standard. He gives us other measures to take.  When He was reviled, he did not revile in return (1 Peter 2:23). Yes, it is easy and tempting to yell back when others yell at us; speak hateful words right back at those who hate us and return evil for evil.  But God does not want His children to stoop to that level of repaying evil for evil.  

  • As Much As Possible, Live Peaceably With Evildoers:  (Romans 12:18)
God is the Giver of peace.  Peace can be found in Him alone.  Peace does not come through diplomacy or compromise.  Because of our sins, we were separated from God. We lived in hostility toward Him.  But God brought peace when Jesus conquered death, He tore down the dividing wall of hostility, the law of the commandments, and brought us reconciliation to Himself.  Peace was brought to this world through Jesus and His victory over sin and death.  Because of this, we can find peace with God (Eph. 2:13-17).  

God commands us to have peace with others (Romans 14:18, Heb. 12:14).  God calls us to live peaceably, promote peace, and be at peace with everyone.  God wants us to strive for peace and do what we can do to bring about peace.  He wants peace not only among believers but also with the unbelievers, the lost.  We must not suppress the Gospel of peace!  We must live godly to have peace with all men.  Also, we must seek and maintain peace with others to get along with one another.  We must do all that is in our power to live in peace with everyone, even evildoers
“I am for peace, but when I speak, they are for war!”  (Psalm 120:7)

Living in a world of hatred, everybody seems to lack peace.  They find it easier to blame others for the strife and conflicts that arise.  It is foolish to demand that others do things our way, for it causes a great amount of strife.  We cause strife and discord when we insist that others are wrong and we are right, demanding that they do everything our way.  Jesus said,  
“Blessed are the peacemakers because they will be called sons of God”  (Matt. 5:9).  

We must think before we utter any inflammatory words that might cause anger instead of peace.  We must promote harmony and peace in our relationships to have unity with one another.  Do you know that when we contribute to strife and discord, it is not the other person's fault but ours as well?  So we must take responsibility to restore peace and be peacemakers.  It means that we must take the first steps to reconciliationWe must refuse to wait for an apology and forgive, for we must act first.  

Remember the words of Jesus,
"If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother"  (Matt. 18:15).  

Jesus commands us to not think of ourselves as the victims and the ones offended but instead, He wants us to go to those who have wronged us or who are against us.  As Jesus’ faithful disciples, we must swallow our pride and practice humility.  We cannot restore peace when we are waiting for others to apologize We must overlook the faults of others and seek harmony in all our relationships.  We must learn to say “I’m sorry” when we are tempted to make excuses for our behavior.  We must make right the wrongs we have committed against others.  Indeed, we all have our bad, upset, and frustrating days, but that does not free us from keeping harmony as best we can, confessing that we're wrong when we are.  

Each one of us must be a teacher of peace, for we must follow Jesus’ footsteps.  We must be teaching this world of darkness to seek peace in their lives and stop fighting God.  Peace is not weakness or cowardice.  It imitates the Son of God whose life was the embodiment of strength and courage.  

  • Do Not Avenge Yourselves:  (Romans 12:19)
When we take revenge into our own hands, we are usurping the role of God, for we are not in His place.  He knows the motives and intentions of the human heart, not us.  He alone is the one we must trust to act with perfect justice and mercy.  To take the responsibility of vengeance on ourselves is to claim or take the place of GodIt is wrong!  We, Christians, must acknowledge the most fundamental principle that God is God, and we are not!  Presumption can keep us out of heaven!  

  1. How easy it is to take vengeance on those who falsely charge us, mistreat us, speak evil of us, and try to destroy us! 
  2. How easy it is to repay them with the same evil with which they’re afflicting us!  It is so easy to repay evil for evil to those who do injustice against us. 
  3. How easy it is to burn with anger and act foolishly!  
  4. How desirous we can be for retribution!  But God wants His children to call on His ‘anger, not on our own!  And though it is true that the wrong done against us is the cause for anger, we must know that our Lord is also angry at what is happening. 

Thus, we must plead to God for action out of God’s anger and not from our own.  It will indeed demand a lot of self-control!  God’s children must not take vengeance for themselves. As those who walk in the Light of God, we must not under any circumstances take matters into our own hands when we have been wronged, sinned against while being innocent.   
  1. In Romans 12:14 we are instructed to “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.”  
  2. Romans 12:17 says, “Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all.” 
  3. Romans 12:19 says, “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”  Vengeance belongs to the Lord.
  4. Romans 12:21 says, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”   

Thus we must not retaliate but instead leave room for God’s judgment and trust in His righteous measurement of judgment, leaving everything in His hands.  God will judge evildoers!  We must realize that judgment must come upon all.  But before we call on God for His judgment upon our enemies, we must first look at ourselves and make sure that we are able to endure God’s judgment upon ourselves.  How easy it is to demand that God take vengeance on others, but how difficult it is for us to accept judgment ourselves!  No, we must be ready to be judged!  We must compare our actions to theirs for God to vindicate us.  Do we dare ask God to judge when we fail to have integrity in our own lives?  Should we be ready for God’s judgment?  So, we must take a good look at ourselves and make changes before we demand God’s judgment on others.   Think about it!

  • We Must Treat Our Enemies With Human Decency:  (Romans 12:20).
Although at times our emotions take over and bring out the worst in us and we get so frustrated, agitated, and angry, we must rule and bring under control such negative emotions.  Why?  It will be a stumbling block thrown our way to make us sin and bring reproach on ourselves and of course on our Lord and Savior.  Jesus commands us to love our enemies (Matt. 5:44).  So often, we are inclined to say, “Okay, I’ll try, but just from a distance.”  But the Lord commands us to provide food and drink to our enemies that need it (Rom. 12:20).  Do you know what’s that called?  Simply, “human decency.”  Jesus declared that even sinners do good to those who do good to them.  But we Christians must rise to a higher plain!  (Luke 6:31-35).  

  • Do Not Be Overcome By Evil, But Overcome Evil With Good:  (Romans 12:21).
Here in this verse, we find the second part of our principle.  We must not do evil to others even when they have done evil to us and have wronged us.  In doing so, we become just like them and have allowed them to rule and control us.  Why?  Simply because we have allowed their sinful behavior to overcome us and make us respond to them in an ungodly manner.  So, we have been “overcome by evil.”  But our Lord has set a much higher standard for His children.  He says that instead of being “overcome by evil,” we must “overcome evil with good.”  It means that we must not allow the wrongdoings of others to make us stumble and cause us to do evil to them in return.  No!  We must fight and rise above our flesh by doing good to them.  Indeed, it is not easy!  Why?  Because we are in a spiritual warfare and we must fight against the wiles of Satan, holding firm to higher ground to not give in or give up on the battlefield of our souls.  Our battle is not against flesh and blood but against the spiritual forces of evil (Eph. 6:12).  

Thus we must take the offensive. The defensive fail to have victory over anger, fear, and self-centeredness.  They allow the world to defeat them, for they are carnal minded.  Sadly, many are merely succumbers instead of being overcomers.  Wouldn’t it be better to overlook another’s fault, Prov. 19:11?  So why not choose to be better rather than bitter, sour, and unforgiving?  Why not choose to overflow with love, kindness, longsuffering, righteousness, hope, joy, and faith?  Those who overflow with the fruits of the Spirit are able to replace that which is negative with righteousness, godliness, faith, love, and peace.  It is so distressing to see so much evil and hatred in all its diverse forms!  And though there will always be evil in this world of darkness, we still must overcome evil with good.  Remember He Who is in us is greater than he that is in the world (1 John 4:4).  


CONCLUSION:

Our Lord wants us to walk on a higher plain than the world.  Romans 12:17-21 is very clear about how we must conduct ourselves in the face of evil or mistreatmentGod expects no less of His children.  It doesn’t matter how others (non-believers) respond to evil:  what God says to do is right.  The Lord expects us to not repay evil for evil.  Instead, He wants us to live peaceably with others and do that which is good for the wellbeing of the other (1 Thes. 5:15).  

God commands us to be at peace with others (Rom. 14:19; Heb. 12:14).  He commands us to be peacemakers.  That means we must take the initiative toward reconciliation with others, those who offend us (Matt. 18:15).

Jesus says that if we only love those who love us and do good things for us, it will do us no good.  Jesus wants us to be the Light of this world and be different than them.  He commands us not just to love those who love us but also love our enemies.  He wants us to do good even to those who hate us, don’t like us, and don’t appreciate us.  Jesus commands that we do good to all men and bless those who curse us.  He even wants us to pray for those who mistreat and abuse us.  Those who treat us with crueltyIndeed, it is not easy but we must do it if we want to go to heaven and be with Him. He wants us to apply the golden rule to everyone.  
“So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 7:12).

Since our heavenly Father has been loving, kind, and merciful to us, He expects us to do the same thing for others.  He wants us to do to others as we would have them do to us. God’s kindness and mercy must lead us to be kind and merciful to others. Many have heard of the golden rule, of doing to others as we would have them do to us. Yet it is rarely put into practice.   Think for a moment what our world would be if everyone around us did for others what they would want others to do for them. Can you picture in your mind what this world would look like? It would be amazing!  Don’t you think?  How radically different this world of ours would be if everyone were to follow just this command given by our Lord Jesus! So why don’t we do it? Why doesn’t everyone practice it?  You may rest assured it would change all of us.  But the problem is we are just too selfish and self-centered!  We don’t care and we refuse to think of others, but only of ourselves. Why?  Simply because we are self-consumed. We do not want to think about others but only of ourselves and how others affect us. Amazing!  

You see, when we think only about ourselves, we hurt others. Our culture is unable to see this.  Oh, how wonderful it would be to do for others as we would want them do for us!  There would be an end to the hurt that others inflict on us and of course on everyone else. And though most everyone knows to do to others as we would have them do to us, yet no one practices this fundamental principle. Why not? Because it is not rooted in our way of reasoning. Why should I do for others as I would want them to do for me? The common alternative is for us to selfishly manipulate others to get out of them what we want. How often do we try this tactic! We do something expecting kindness in return. But when that kindness is not reciprocated, we immediately get angry and try to hurt the other person. It is just sad!  This is the reason why marriages experience trouble.  They use the same selfish manipulation instead of being selfless, giving what is needed to the other person.  

God’s kindness and steadfast love must motivate us to love others. It is foolish to do for others so they will do for us. That is not what Jesus taught!  Jesus’ command must compel us to deal with others by beginning with ourselves. It means that we must not determine how to treat others by looking at them, asking if they deserve it. Rather, we start with ourselves and ask what would we want and need and do for the other person. Jesus wants us to treat others graciously.  

“For this is the Law and the Prophets.”  


This is the very heart of the Law and the Prophets. This command is the heart of the kingdom and the very heart of God. It is precisely what the Law of Moses and the prophets were trying to teach and preach to the people (God said, “Love your neighbor as yourself” in Leviticus 19:18).  It has always been God’s message. Now the cross amplifies this message in our hearts.  Through Jesus’ cross, God draws us to Him. We can approach His mighty throne to ask of Him, expecting to receive because He is a loving, heavenly Father.  It is beautiful beyond words!  He is the powerful God who gives good gifts to His children. So, now let us do the same!  Let us give good gifts (blessings)  to others. Let us change this world of darkness by being the light.  Let us do for others what we would want them to do for us.  Let this sink deeply into your hearts!

God’s love compels us to overcome our enemies and love them. We are called to display God’s love to others.  In all circumstances, we are commanded by our Lord to treat others the same way that we want them to treat us.  Whether they are our friends or our enemies.  I am aware that it is much easier to love those who love us and do good to us.  But it takes a lot of courage and strength along with humility to love those who hate us and be good to them.  Nevertheless, God’s children are ruled by a higher standard and we must shine our light amid those who desire to do evil, mistreat us and afflict us. 

Those who do not love God do not know God, for God is love (1 John 8).  Hating those who mistreat and abuse us will rob us of our joy and happiness.  It will make us miserable, for hate and misery dwell in the same hearts.  You see, heaven is not for haters.  It is for those who walk in love and follow in the footsteps of Jesus.  Thus, let us pursue the way of love, not hatred.   God’s faithful children must overflow with the fruits of the Spirit:  love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control.  

The Lord commands us to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Him. We must empty ourselves of the desires of the flesh that resist doing the will of God. Pride is often the root of problems among us. It causes conflict with no way out. There is no room for the proud heart in the kingdom of heaven! The kingdom of Christ is only for the poor in spirit who will humbly bow before Him and say, “I am only an unprofitable or unworthy servant, for I have done that which is my duty (Luke 17:7). Your will be done in me.” The contentious desires of our hearts cause nothing but conflicts, hatred, malice, arguing, bitterness, divisions, and strife. They are evil and foolish (James 4:1-3). Our duty before God is to live peaceably with all men. He does not want us to repay evil for evil, but do that which is honorable in His sight and in the sight of all men (Rom. 12:17-18). I don't see any other way to heaven! 

We must treat all people, even our enemies, with righteousness, respect, and dignity.  We must not let our carnal emotions defeat the Spirit of Christ living in us. It will bring reproach on us and His kingdom of righteousness. So we must choose to love our enemies, for this pleases our Father in heaven! (Matt. 5:44).

Therefore, our faith must rise above our flesh (Luke 6:31-35). We must fight against the wiles of the devil (Eph. 6:10-13) that we not be overcome by evil but rather overcome evil with good. As soldiers of Christ, we must put on the whole armor of God to fight the enemy and live a life of godliness and good works (Matt. 5:16). Moreover, we must teach and live that righteous path of life. The only way to overcome evil in this world is by living a righteous life. God demands that we do right, even in the face of so much evil and mistreatment.  

May God help us to put these principles of righteousness into practice in our lives, that we may live peaceably with all men and not cause anyone to stumble, for this pleases our Father in heaven.


Luci



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