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Mid-Week with Christ
August 26, 2020

How to Beat Evil

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Romans 12:9-21

9 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. 

Prayer for the Day

Heavenly Father, Your Son urged forgiveness for his persecutors and spoke peace to his faithless friends. By the Spirit you have poured into us, make us ready to pour the hot coals of change on the heads of those we think are our enemies, that they might become our friends. In Jesus' name we pray, Amen.

A famous man once said that, if someone attacks him, he will "always attack back... except 100x more." Paul proclaims the complete opposite approach. Instead, he suggests blessing those who persecute you, never avenging yourself, giving both food and drink to your enemies, and overcoming evil with good. Is he serious? 

None of what Paul is suggesting in Romans 12 makes sense. Unless, of course, you have drunk deeply of his words in Romans 1 through 11. Paul has worked hard to make the case that everything we have is a gift from God. Our hearts themselves are rotten to the core (Romans 3:10-18). We don't do the good we ought to do, and are too often tempted to do the evil we should be trying to avoid. 

Standing in the background of Paul's words in Romans 12 is the passion and crucifixion of Jesus. When the crowds wanted to stone him, Jesus once pointedly said, "I have shown you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you going to stone me?” (John 10:32). As they nailed him to the cross, he said, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do" (Luke 23:34). The first words Jesus spoke to his faithless disciples after his resurrection were "Peace be with you." Surely the coals of God's grace melted their hearts of stone.

Paul encourages Christians to follow the example of the One who has delivered them from sin, death and the Devil. If God's fiery wrath on the cross meant our salvation, what will his wrath on our enemies mean but their repentance? Rather than answering hatred with more hatred, answer it with peace, and so overcome evil with good. 
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