Tuesday, June 2
Conquer evil with good
Scripture: Proverbs 25-27, Romans 15
Proverbs 25:21–22 If your enemies are hungry, give them food to eat. If they are thirsty, give them water to drink. 22 You will heap burning coals of shame on their heads, and the Lord will reward you.
This proverb is quoted by Paul in Romans 12, a passage we read three days ago. Paul uses it to discourage revenge and encourage conquering evil with good.
Romans 12:19–21 Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say,
“I will take revenge;
I will pay them back,”
says the Lord.
“If your enemies are hungry, feed them.
If they are thirsty, give them something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap
burning coals of shame on their heads.”
21 Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good.
Jesus called us to love our enemies. We understand that love isn’t a feeling, but action. Love is doing what’s best for another no matter what it costs you. This proverb, and Paul’s application of it, are a clear example of practical love. If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if thirsty, give him something to drink. Do something good to benefit your enemy—and turn him into a friend. Paul used this proverb to make two important practical applications.
First, don’t take revenge. Leave that to God. Revenge creates a vicious cycle: I avenge your wrong to me, and you avenge my wrong to you—and around and around we go, endlessly. I saw signs at the march on Sunday that said, “Eye for an eye.” Friends, if we live by that, we’ll all soon be blind! Jesus taught love for enemies, not revenge. As Christians, we must take that seriously and model it. (BTW: this is not an argument against punishing evil or injustice through legitimate legal means.)
Second, conquer evil with good. You don’t conquer evil with more evil; that only perpetuates evil. We won’t overcome racism with more hate. We will only overcome it with good—by loving each other, by doing what is best for each other. What does that look like practically?
I was talking with my friend Kitara about this. She feels strongly that the rioting and looting are counter-productive, but policy change can make a difference. We need to identify the laws and policies that foster injustice and change them! I added that we must continue to share Jesus and work for the heart change that comes from following Him as Lord. This means educating Christians on our responsibility to love everyone always. Everyone.
I saw a tweet yesterday that said, “We’re not gonna hug our way out of racism.” I don’t know all that the author meant by that, and don’t want to misrepresent her. I agree it takes more than hugs. But what is that more? It is love, it is genuine concern that results in positive action, in doing what’s best, in working for both systemic and heart change. It’s not more violence and hate.
Prayer: Lord, loving my enemies is very hard. Sometimes I don’t even want to try. You did it, and still do. Please help me. And help us as Your followers to lead the way in securing justice, reconciliation and peace.