Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Rome, 165 A.D. According to early Church history, the Christians living there at that time do not have an easy life. Persecution seems to be on the rise. Then conditions grow worse. A plague arrives. As many as two thousand people in Rome die every day. The dominant cultural mindset has little regard for the dead and the dying. Anyone with the financial means to move out of the city does so.
The Christians, however, do not. The Christians stay, and they stay for a reason. Because God has demonstrated mercy to them in Jesus Christ, they desire to demonstrate mercy to the sick and the dying in Rome. They care for them, bury them, and do not do this just for a little while. They do it for the duration.
Whenever Satan and this broken world team up to make life difficult for me as a Christian, it’s easy for my old sinful self to talk me into feeling overcome, defeated, resentful, bitter. When I do, I conveniently forget that nowhere in the Bible does God ever guarantee that I can expect my life to be comfortable, convenient, trouble-free. On the contrary, God’s Word fairly shouts that I can expect pushback of every kind. To forget God’s voice on this matter is more than some simple oversight. It’s deliberate, sinful denial—sinful denial for which I need to repent.
But the wondrous thing is this. When I once again receive the refreshment of God’s forgiveness through faith in the One who suffered and died to wash me clean—that very forgiveness empowers me to look at the difficulties in my life with new eyes. When the troubles of this world press down upon me, I can see them as opportunities for my fruits of faith to shine. As the old saying goes, the light of my candle is much more visible in times of darkness than in times of light.
And remember those early Christians facing all that trouble in Rome? Many, many new souls came to faith in Jesus during that time. As people watched these Christians reflect God’s love for them in Christ, they wanted to learn more.
By the power of your love and forgiveness, Lord Jesus, move me to overcome evil with good. Amen.