“Do not be overcome with evil, but overcome evil with good”
Evil threatens to overcome the world. Evil has always been present, sometimes violently so, such as in the days of my youth when Adolf Hitler was in power. Massive force was used to overcome the evil he created. But today we read how Paul wrote, “Do not be overcome with evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21). How do you overcome evil with good?
Paul’s message is about our personal response to evil, especially evil individuals. If we respond to anger with anger you know what can happen! In the book of Proverbs Solomon has given powerful advice. “A soft answer turns away wrath” (15:1) and “Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offences. On the lips of him who has understanding, wisdom is found … the wise lay up knowledge” (10:12-14).
Some of Christ’s parables were developed from sayings in the Proverbs. Truly, God’s word is the real source of knowing how to be good and wise in overcoming evil. The message of Christ and his followers is for individuals; it was never for nations; there never has been a ‘Christian’ nation. Paul wrote, “as far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all … never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God” (verse 19).
Australia with all its blessings of prosperity has been called the “lucky country”, but it has become more and more godless. Is it just coincidence that ten years ago we had massive forest fires that destroyed entire towns and many people were burnt to death? Then eight years ago we had huge floods covering much of the country, huge areas were covered, a great number of crops and livestock destroyed.
What awaits us this year – the nation, and the world – is more ungodly than ever! The Psalms tell us, “frost and hail, snow and mist, stormy winds fulfilling his word” (148:8). Other countries in the world have suffered very extreme weather conditions. We are reading in Exodus of the Lord’s control over the elements of nature that confounded the Egyptians. The real God of the Hebrews confounded the Gods that the Egyptians imagined to exists.
And today? Man continues to learn the hard way – that it is perilous to ignore God. Let us not learn the hard way! Instead – the wonderful way laying the foundation by reading God’s word every day.