Romans 12:21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
The 13 verses from 9-21 are an extremely concentrated, extremely down-to-earth guide to living as a Christian, and this verse essentially sums it all up. You could say that this passage is the answer to the question, “what would Jesus do?” Society would be very different if every avowed Christian actually lived this way! The devil knows this, so he does all he can to try to convince us that this is “impractical,” that “no one could actually live this way.” However, like everything else he says, that’s a lie. Jesus obviously lived like this, and those who are in Him can do so as well. When we try to take control, to do things in our own strength, we fail miserably at this sort of lifestyle, but humble submission to the Holy Spirit will bring us through every time. Just recently a report was released about sexual abuse in a major Protestant denomination in the US. Since my immediate ancestors were very active in that denomination, I at least knew of, and in some cases knew directly, most of the people named in that report. Those men were blinded by what other people (and the devil) said about them. They lost the fundamental humility necessary to live as Paul describes here. The devil is absolutely nasty, and he respects no one. To do as this verse says, overcoming evil with good, we’ve got to be as the song says: “In Christ alone I place my trust.” The moment we trust even ourselves, we are open to deception.
The textbook that I use in teaching medical English to Japanese has the line, “I don’t have confidence in myself.” The Japanese word for “confidence” is written with characters that literally mean “self belief.” I tell my students that I don’t like that Japanese word, because I don’t believe in myself. I have betrayed myself countless times! However, I believe in God, so I can have assurance, without trusting in myself. That might seem to be no more than word games, but I think it’s very important. I have been tripped up far too much by pride, and I know the damage that can cause. The world is certainly full of evil, and I’m not to shut my eyes to it. However, neither am I to fix my eyes on it, but rather fix them on the One who has overcome evil and death, and by abiding in Him, allow His victory to operate in and through me.
Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You for all that You have been doing in, around, and through us in these days. My schedule looks empty today, but I have a lot I need or want to take care of. Help me not forget things and let them slip through the cracks, but rather spend each moment in obedience to You, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!