The final verse of Romans 12, a chapter dedicated to the commitment of being living sacrifices to God, ends this way with verse 21: “Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good.” (NLT)
What a hard pill to swallow.
Its so easy to read these verses in hypothetical thoughts and situations, but when it becomes time to apply them it’s not so simple.
Every single day, we have a choice what we do with all that is done to us. Do we allow the toxicity around us, whatever form it comes in, to boil up inside our bodies until we explode with rage and become bitter, hate-fueled broken versions of ourselves?
Or, do we accept the brokenness of the world means that broken people exist all around us, and sometimes even in our own selves?
The latter gives us freedom to forgive. Peace. Calmness.
It doesn’t mean bad things didn’t happen to us, and it doesn’t mean we are doormats to be walked over, but rather it means we accept what is the past and don’t bring it into our future so that we can live towards hope, and freedom from the fuel that anger gives.
This is the very illustration of salvation.
Jesus is God. He never sinned, and is not capable of sinning, yet he bore all of mankind’s sin on the cross for our benefit. What did he stand to gain by doing this? He was already a part of the Triune God, so its not like he didn’t have all that he needed.
Us on the other hand – we are broken, faulty, and purely vile next to his goodness. And yet he doesn’t see us that way.
Just as sin was imputed on all of mankind in the garden of Eden, so was forgiveness for all sins placed upon Jesus. One man brought disaster upon the entire human race, and an other redeemed us all.
How easily could Jesus have become enraged at our sin? How easily could he have recognized our desires to do evil things that sometimes don’t seem forgivable? How easily could he have let evil conquer, choosing not to do good?
But he didn’t. Thankfully for us, he willingly decided to let good prevail, and since his death, hundreds of thousands of people have been redeemed and set free from bondage, been forgiven and forgiven others.
If Jesus had left us to our own devices, how much darker would this world be? How much more cruel, manipulating and evil would this world be?
It had to start somewhere. Someone had to be brave enough to defeat evil with good. Someone had to be humble enough to not fight for the last word, try and prove they’re right, accept the evil that was done to them without retaliating.
And that is exactly what Jesus did.
And that is exactly with Paul is asking of us in this verse.
‘Christian’ means “Little Christ.” We can never fully be Christ because we aren’t God, but we can try and be more like him every day, little versions of him all over this world.
That’s what we do when we imitate him and let evil be conquered by good, no matter how hard it is. One small step at a time.
Return contempt with a smile.
Forgive without an apology.
Shrug off the feelings of anger.
Dwell on the positive attributes of even the worst people.
If you want to make this world a better place, truly love. No strings attached. No conditions. No measurement of an other person’s worthiness. Just Love.
The world is dark enough, what we need now is more light.
Don’t let the darkness conquer you, but rather shine as bright as you can. Always.
“Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.” – Romans 12:9-10, NLT.