Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Yesterday, I shared about all the evil rising up these days and that we are supposed to be light in the darkness. If we are the light, that means the darkness is on the outside. But what happens when the darkness we feel is on the inside?
As Christians, we are to be holy as our Heavenly Father is Holy. We should be filled with joy because we have right relationship with God. Our futures are assured and God has promised to finish the good work that He has started within us. We are to be His ambassadors, sharing His grace and love and truth with a dying world. We can live an abundant and victorious life because of the sacrifice of Christ for us and the gift of God’s Holy Spirit to us.
But some days it’s hard to see the good in life.
Some days it’s hard to see the good in ourselves.
In spite of God’s loving assurance and presence, many Christians lead lives of quiet desperation. Contrary popular belief, one of the first places you can look for encouragement is in the commands we find in the Bible. God’s commands reveal what God is like because He is the standard for us.
Are You a Checklist Person?
Some people look at lists like the one in Romans 12 as a checklist (see below). When they go down this “checklist,” they see it as a pass/fail test. There are those who are discouraged, only seeing their failures in the list. There are those who will take credit for the commands that they are keeping well, reminding themselves, I’m not perfect, but I’m better than a lot of people!
Of course, we know that the truth is closer to the first way of thinking because “none is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one” (Romans 3:10-12, ESV). What can we make of it, if there is no good in us and we keep failing at obedience? How can we ever hope overcome sin to become the person God created us to be??
When my own sin discourages me, reading the imperatives, or commands, in God’s Word edifies me. Edification is teaching or instruction, but it is also the process of improving or building up. His rules for us remind us of who we are meant to be and to Whom we belong. For the Christian, since God has promised to sanctify us by His grace, these commands are the assurance of what He is doing, right now, in us (1 Peter 1:2). HE is the one to overcome!
With the hope-filled confidence that God will finish the work He has started in you, read the passage below as the checklist that He is completing in you, day by day. Read Romans 12:9-21 as a promise:
Marks of the True Christian
Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 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.” 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.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
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