Derek Smith, Lead Pastor LHBC
Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. 10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. 11 Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. 12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. 13 Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.
14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. 17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20 To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Watchman Nee, the great Chinese evangelist, once told this true story.
A poor, Christian Chinese farmer had rice fields high in the mountain. Every day he spent hours pumping water into the rice paddies; but when he returned to the fields the next morning, he would find that his unbelieving neighbor, who lived down the hill, had opened the dikes and drained the water to fill his own fields.
For a while the Christian ignored the injustice, but at last he became desperate. His rice would die if this continued, and this was his livelihood. So he gathered his church, and they prayed and discussed the situation and came up with a plan. The next day the Christian farmer rose early in the morning and first filled his neighbor’s fields; then he attended his own. He counted his neighbor more significant than himself and looked to his neighbor’s interests as well as his own.
Soon the neighbor wanted to know the Jesus whom the farmer served as Lord and master. He eventually came to faith by seeing how the mind of Christ radically reordered the attitude and thinking of another man. He was forever transformed by the man’s shining example of Christ.
Paul here tells the church at Rome to do essentially the same thing: to overcome evil with good. It feels at times as if evil is running a muck in our world today. Injustice, hatred, lawlessness, violence, and selfish ambition rule the day. This was also true in Paul’s day in the Greco-Roman world. Paul is entreating the believers in Rome to remember the sacrifice of Christ. Jesus didn’t destroy the world, He died for the sins of man. All the hatred, murder, violence, immorality, injustice, greed…..Jesus died to save us from these things. He overcame sin, death, and hell by the greatest display of extravagant love ever, and we must arm ourselves with the same purpose. You want to change the world? You want to alter a broken system? You do it with love. Evil is only overcome by good. Paul says here be genuine, love, honor, be patient, contribute, bless, live in harmony, associate with the lowly, and feed your enemy.
Church….let’s be a part of the solution in these days, not add to the problem. The solution for mankind is an old rugged cross and an empty tomb. The answer is an open Bible and a commitment to the Upper Room. Prayer and praise are our weapons and love is our mission. Faith, hope, and love abide these three but the greatest of these is love. The gospel conquers all so let’s proclaim transformation in the name of Christ. Let’s build relationships that matter for eternity and be willing to listen to vantage points of life that are outside our experience. Let’s bless those who curse us and live peaceably with all. How do you overcome evil? You do it with good, so let’s declare the goodness of God at all times, and show how good He is by our loving humble actions in the heart of a broken culture.
PRAYER FOR TODAY:
Father God, help us. Rain down righteousness on us until Your glory fills the earth as the waters fill the seas. Help me Lord to live out the radical love you displayed on the cross. You could have left me in sin, but Lord You pursued me in Your love and died for my sins. Lord, arm me with the same purpose. Help me to overcome evil with good in Your name. Jesus, You have the name above every name and it’s in Your name I pray, amen.
MEMORY VERSE OF THE WEEK:
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.