Do not be overcome by evil… Romans 12:21 (ESV)
We live in a world of evil. We see it all around us. Politicians denounce it. Social Activists demonstrate against it. We all wonder if we will be swallowed up by it. It inspires fear and can bring out the worst in us. But it can also bring out the best in us.
Everyone has an idea of what might be described as evil. As followers of Jesus, we certainly want to avoid evil. But before we go too far, we need to define it. A broad biblical definition of evil is anything contrary to the will and way of God. Evil need not be just gross and extreme but is often subtle and always deceitful.
There are evil things we encounter every day at work, at school, in the marketplace, in entertainment and even in our closest relationships with family and friends. What are those common evil things that we are to overcome?
Seven Powerful Evil Forces
Criticism. I mean that harsh, blunt and sometimes mean-spirited criticism that is a put down not a help. This kind of criticism happens every day and wears away our self-confidence and self-esteem. It strikes at our faith and causes great and lasting pain.
Discouragement. Words of discouragement are constantly being expressed. Negative talk, negative predictions, opposition to ideas are a few of the things that we experience all the time. Discouragement keeps us from realizing our potential and enjoying the life God has for us. Strong discouragement just makes us want to quit.
Crude Language. When we love Jesus and are following him, crude language is offensive and upsetting to our sensibilities. Coarse talk and obscene jokes are common in many environments and erode our sense of spiritual purity.
Faithless talk. I have heard faithless talk even from people who call themselves Christians. Talking like God doesn’t exist; talking like they depend on karma not on God — this kind of talk seeks to turn us from depending on God to depending on ourselves or ‘the universe’ to make things right. Faithless talk is the expression of people who have no vital relationship with Jesus.
Anger. Conflict, fighting, arguing, hasty words and broken relationships are all manifestations of anger. Anger abounds in our world. It is expressed violently in crime and terrorism. It is a cornerstone of the entertainment industry.
Self-centered people. When we believe that it needs to be “all about me,” we damage every relationship we have. We distort everything that is happening around us. This attitude is expressed in many ways but always communicates the belief that “you don’t really matter.”
Complete intolerance. There is a prevailing judgmental attitude in our culture. Often, people who call themselves Christians are intolerant of those they view as evil and those who are not Christians are intolerant of those who don’t conform to their views! Love conquers intolerance. While I do not approve of all types of behavior, I love those who behave in that way.
I don’t want you to be overwhelmed with all of this so let’s stop looking at the evil and instead focus on the response we are called to!
… but overcome evil with good. Romans 12:21 (ESV)
There are so many things we can do in our lives to be expressions of God’s righteousness. And, we must put our minds to doing it!
Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. Romans 6:13 (ESV)
Seven Strategies to Overcome Evil
Encourage. There is incredible power in encouragement. Words of encouragement change entire conversations. They raise spirits. They have the special serendipity of encouraging the one who gives them as well! Intentionally sharing words of encouragement is powerful.
Empower. God’s word is an empowering word. When we begin to realize God’s promises, we find that he gives us incredible power as we follow Jesus. When we share the truth of God in a way to empower others, faith is lifted and strengthened. We are no longer slaves to sin and fear. God’s truth sets us free and empowers an abundant, eternal life!
Edify. Share thoughts and words that bring spiritual truth to others. Grow in your knowledge of God’s word and then share that knowledge with others! Seek the spiritual growth of those around you.
Forgive. This is a powerful tool to transform lives. When you forgive, you release yourself from the bond of bitterness. Forgiveness sets the stage for the healing of relationships. Forgiveness lifts the oppressive atmosphere of conflict, distrust and anxiety.
Be helpful. When we take the time to help someone, it can change the course of our week — and theirs as well. When we take the focus off ourselves and place it on another who needs our help, we truly demonstrate the values of Jesus!
Express love. You can do this in so many ways. Simple words can have a profound impact. “I love you.” “You matter to me.” “I want to hear what you have to say.” “You are special and so important.” When we sincerely share words of love, we again express the profound love that God has for everyone.
Be winsome. This means we are attractive or appealing in character. Paul said, he always tried to please people. This is what he meant. Jesus followers are not to be obnoxious, rude, self-righteous or superior. We are to compassionately express God’s love and truth. Just as Jesus came full of grace and truth, we are to start with grace before we proceed to truth. Grace is winsome.
So, here are seven things we can do to overcome evil. And you can probably think of a hundred more! We need to employ these strategies on a regular basis.
Three Steps to Employing These Strategies
Pray. Ask God to help you express his love and goodness in the world. God helps us overcome evil with good when we are in constant communication with him! We must pray continually in order to persevere in goodness.
Be intentional. If you have to, make a list of the things you will do each day to overcome evil with good. Don’t focus on the evil but on the good you will do today! This is God’s plan to overcome evil, so if you stick to the plan, he will make it succeed.
Be habitual. When you start down this path, keep on going until doing good becomes part of your everyday routine. Doing what Jesus did every day will change your world.
Change your world today! I challenge you to take these three steps today. Don’t wait another day. Don’t wait until you feel like it or you’re less busy or your circumstances become more rosy. You can do this!