“Overcome evil with good”
Chapter 12 of Paul’s letter to the Romans abounds with challenging principles – these are a wonderful guide to our lives. The chapter is, in a sense, summarised by its final words, that followers of Jesus should
“overcome evil with good”.
Actually, this largely completes Paul’s spiritual advice – words of guidance for all who desire to develop the character of Christ. This is detailed, in particular from verse 9 – which starts,
“Let love be genuine”.
From tomorrow we will read his advice on various practical issues that challenged the Romans (and in most cases ourselves), in how to keep to godly principles in a godless world.
Our world does not know what genuine love is – love in the spiritual sense! This spirit in the world surrounds us, much of it may not openly appear evil but it can undermine our understanding of what is “good” – and our practice of it. We are surrounded by godlessness in many forms – but that is the problem – it can camouflage our perception that there are only two ways of ‘walking’ – on the broad or the narrow ways. Paul, after stating, “Let love be genuine”, then says,
“Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good”.
Verse 14 is particularly challenging,
“Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them”.
Nothing is achieved by cursing them – it only serves to put ourselves in a negative frame of mind. Consider how we find David doing his best to be positive in this thinking and resultant actions in the two chapters we read today in 2 Samuel (20 & 21). David was doing his best to “overcome evil with good” in difficult circumstances – when the normal human mind would have surely sought to punish those who had shown animosity toward him as he fled from Absalom.
The trials David had been through, which began when he was young, can be seen as a training ground for a truly godly character. What a marvellous “song”. David composes, as we will read tomorrow. Looking ahead, verses 21 and 22 jump out!
“The LORD dealt with me according to my righteousness; according to the cleanness of my hands he rewarded me. For I have kept the ways of the LORD and have not wickedly departed from my God.” (2 Samuel 22:21-22)
Truly, David learnt to “overcome evil with good” – let us do the same.