Romans 12:21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
After having told his readers to present their bodies as living sacrifices to God in verse 1, Paul discussed the gifts we’ve been given to do that in verses 6-8, and then from verse 9 he tells us what that looks like in terms of daily living, and this verse is a summation of all of that. There is a lot of evil of many kinds in the world. We aren’t to be intimidated by that, but rather win out over the evil. Overcome is a good word here, but the Japanese has slightly more flavor: “Hit and win.” (Or, “Win by hitting.) This isn’t passive. If we just “go with the flow,” we will soon be swept away by all the evil. For many years, generations even, Christians were taught that the thing to do was to separate from the world, to withdraw. Some of that came from a sincere misinterpretation of Jesus talking about our being “in the world but not of it.” (John 15:19, 17:14-16) However, if we withdraw, how can we be salt and light? (Matthew 5:13-16) We are to be active representatives of good, to our neighbors, on school boards, in our work, in local and even national government. Withdrawing, doing nothing, is “putting your light under a basket,” which Jesus expressly said not to do. (Matthew 5:15-16) We aren’t to go “looking for fights,” because as soon as we do that, we will start operating in our own strength, which is really weakness, and will be defeated. If we are actively living for Christ, He will direct us to the issues He wants us to tackle, and how. Our own wisdom is flat out insufficient for the task, but God is never deceived, nor is He ever at a loss for what to do. Our place is full submission and obedience, no matter how public or how private. If we aren’t Christlike in private, our public facade will quickly be destroyed. It is God’s plan to cause His name to be acknowledged as holy and bring His kingdom to earth through His children’s obedience to Him in every area of their lives and every part of society, for His glory.
This naturally applies to me as much as it does to anyone. Because I am an American citizen but a permanent resident of Japan, my options in the political field are quite limited, but that’s only part of society. There’s plenty of evil to go around! Right now we are working on a CD album to combat the evil of suicide. That’s something that most people recognize as evil, but tools to fight it seem hard to come by. The Lord gave my wife a list of songs that at first she had no idea what they were for, but He has led inescapably to the awareness that they are a weapon against suicide. The album will be titled, Living Hope, and will be bilingual Japanese/English. She had thought at first it was just to be Japanese, but friends in many different countries heard about the project and asked that it be bilingual. The work on it has gone more slowly that we desired, but we are not to give up. Interestingly, as we have worked on it, the devil has tried to hit us with depression as well! As Paul said, we aren’t to be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Father, thank You for the privilege of being Your agent in overcoming evil. (1 John 3:8) May we recognize our own weakness and so allow Your strength to operate through us, (2 Corinthians 12:9) working Your will for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!