“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”– Romans 12:21 NIV
Paul is sharing these words of wisdom with the Romans in dealing with people. He reminds them earlier in the chapter of the importance of not taking revenge as vengeance belongs to God and directs them to treat others with kindness. The natural expectation of someone who has mistreated people is to receive the same treatment. However, it is an unexpected human response by being kind as it causes them to reflect on their actions. It begins to make them wonder why they did not receive the same evil they dished out.
Paul continues to tell them to love, feed, and meet the needs of the one who has mistreated them. He concludes the message by telling them do not be overcome by evil but overcome evil with good. To not take revenge in one’s hand can be a difficult pill to swallow. However, the most significant testimony can come out of not allowing others to change who you are as a person. Having the ability to maintain one’s character and integrity in a difficult situation is the best testament to self-control and growth.
One cannot control the actions of others, but one can control theirs. Jesus provided the perfect example on the cross when he said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Often this is the case with those we encounter who are unkind. The actions may come out of a place of bitterness and personal hurt. There is a saying that hurt people, hurt people. We have to look beyond the action and look at the heart. The same way God does for us. None of us are perfect, and we all have our hurts and disappointments. Therefore, it is imperative to self-reflect and to provide the love, kindness, mercy, and grace we would want to receive. In the words of the remarkable Mrs. Michelle Obama, “when they go low, we go high.” We must find a way to show others the love they deserve despite themselves because, with God, all things are possible.
Blessings, Reverend Takana L. Jefferson, Chaplain, United States Navy