How to Overcome Evil

“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”  Romans 12:21

A “paradox” is a seeming contradiction that may actually be true.  The Bible contains many paradoxes.  For example, the Apostle Paul writes, “when I am weak, then am I strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10).  We would think, “When I am weak I am weak, and when I am strong I am strong.”  But the Bible uses this paradox to drive home a point, that when we are weak in human resources we must rely upon God.

In the present passage, Paul uses another of his paradoxes by asking us to overcome evil with good.  How can we do that?  Shouldn’t we match wits with our opponents?  Actually, we should not.  We read this in 2 Corinthians 10:4-6.

"The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world.  On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.  We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.  And we will be ready to punish every act of disobedience, once your obedience is complete."

Simply put, we do not do things as the world does.  Jesus spoke much of this in His Sermon on the Mount.  He told us to turn the other cheek, go the extra mile, shine light in darkness, not to retaliate, and many other teachings that, at first glance, seem to contradict common sense.  Jesus spoke of supernatural living in a dark age.  He called us to a much higher standard, one that is not easy to attain.

When does the world take note of God’s people?  They notice us only when we live differently than other people. The people of this world expect others to retaliate when they get in your face.  But God expects another sort of response from us.  Paul would recall his own encounters with evil in the following verse:

"When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it."  1 Corinthians 4:12

When you set out to live out like this, you will be tested to the limit.  But remember that the world needs a dose of compassion, kindness and mercy, especially when they do not expect it.

The next time someone is having a bad day, try extending a bit more grace to them, and in doing so you will leave them thinking about what they just experienced.  You might even leave them speechless.


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