There’s plenty going on in our country during this election cycle to stir people of conscience to anger. Pronouncements by high ranking public officials supporting gay marriage and government mandates that violate religious convictions can make some Christians “fightin’ mad.” I’m writing today to challenge all Christ-followers to not be overcome by evil, but to overcome evil with good (Romans 12:21).
The Bible calls upon God’s people to hate evil (Ps.97:10; Prov.8:13; Amos 5:15). Evil overcomes us when it causes us to move beyond hating evil to hating evildoers. Just watch our precious Lord Jesus as he deals with some of the most immoral people in His society. He clearly confronts their sin, but never disrespects them in the process of doing so. He shoots straight with them about the truth, calls them to repent, but never leaves them doubting that He loves them.
I was grieved to read of a church in North Carolina whose pastor in a sermon suggested that homosexuals should be rounded up, and placed in a huge pen where they would be fed and watered basically until they died. In this way the problem of homosexuality would just go away. Seriously? That kind of rhetoric seriously harms the cause of Christ.
So how do we overcome evil with good?
First, we depend upon heavenly wisdom in our response to controversial matters. “The wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere” (James 3:17). We know we are hearing from and living for God when we respond in this way. James also admonishes us: “But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such ‘wisdom’ does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil” (James 3:14-15).
Second, we never criticize anyone for whom we have not first prayed. Jesus teaches us that we are to pray for our enemies and moral opponents (see Matt.5:43-48). When we earnestly and sensitively pray in the Spirit of Jesus for evildoers, our response to them will also be tempered by the Spirit of Jesus.
Third, we are confident that our greatest weapons are not political but spiritual. The Bible says that our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but rather against evil rulers, authorities and powers in the spiritual realm (See Eph.6:10-12). Thus, “the weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world … they have divine power to demolish strongholds” (II Cor.10:4). These weapons include the preaching of the Gospel and the power of prayer. If we abandon these mighty, God-ordained weapons we may as well be swinging at the air.
Fourth, in the name of Jesus we demonstrate practical love for evildoers. This is what Christ did for us when He died on the Cross as a sacrifice for our sins. We were all sinners and evildoers. Did Christ simply condemn us? No, in love He laid down His life for us. It is that amazing manifestation of grace, mercy and love that draws sinners into a life-changing relationship with Him. We will never gain the moral high ground in any debate until our opponents know we are interested in more than just winning an argument. They need to know that we truly care for the prevalence of truth which sets people free (John 8:32).
Fifth, we courageously stand for truth. After seeking heaven’s wisdom, praying for our enemies and showing love for evildoers, we stand up and speak up. Again, the teachings of our Lord guide us in this: “You are the salt of the earth … You are the light of the world … Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven” (Matt.5:14-16). Salt and light are effective as they penetrate. Salt penetrates meat and preserves it. Light penetrates darkness and illumines it. These are the “good deeds” that cause praise and glory to go to our heavenly Father. I encourage you to join proactive groups that are engaged in shaping culture in the name of Christ. Support political candidates or parties that hold to biblical values such as the sanctity of life, justice for the underprivileged, sanctity of marriage and stewardship of God’s creation.
So by all means in the battle against evil, speak up, stand up, show up but always lift up others in the love of Jesus Christ.