Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Romans 12:21
God spoke these words to His people in Rome after they had endured the excesses of Caligula and while they were still enduring the nightmare of Nero.
How were Christians to respond in times of rapid social change? What does God say to these Christians and therefore to us today? “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
Knowing the evils these Christians were facing in Rome helps us to see how powerfully these verses speak to us today. The words “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good,” are a summary of the priorities that are laid out for us in verses 9-21.
The fact that God says, “Do not be overcome by evil” indicates the real possibility that this can and does happen. What would it look like for a person to be overcome by evil?
- A parent fills her mind with the fearmongering of the news channels. It is always on in her house, and over time she becomes weighed down with all the evil in the world. She is gripped with fear, and she gradually loses her peace and joy. What is that but to be overcome be evil?
- A student plays on a high school or college sports team. His teammates are pursuing different lifestyles from what he learned at home, and he feels the pressure to conform. So he goes to the parties, tries the drugs, and experiments with sex. What is that but to be overcome by evil?
- A person in the workplace has to deal with the cutthroat culture—devour or be devoured. Pride fills the air. Cynicism is rife. Understanding and compassion are rarely to be found. Over time a hardness creeps into his own heart. What is that but to be overcome by evil?
Do you feel that you are being overcome by evil? How so?