by Pastor Noel Due
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Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good (Romans 12:21).
This verse is not only a command, but it is also a description of what God has done for us in Christ. Evil cannot be conquered by force. No human strategies affect it (indeed, these are what it thrives on!). And there is nothing in our world that is not tainted by it. God alone is good. And he alone overcomes evil through his own goodness.
We see and receive that goodness in many ways every day: the bread on our tables, the rain and the sun, seedtime and harvest, the gifts of love and promises of hope. All these things point to the goodness of God, revealed fully, finally and inescapably in the gift of Christ himself.
Through him, we come to know the goodness of God personally and as a community of faith. And through the Spirit whom he pours out – who teaches us to cry ‘Abba, Father’ – we experience all the gifts and graces that allow the family of the Father to love him and serve one another.
All the other commands in this passage flow from that experience of mercy. The love of which the passage speaks, the mutual care and consolation, the gifts of forgiveness and humble service, and the willingness not to seek ‘like for like’. All of these are only possible because of the goodness of God, who has been good to us. We overcome evil with good because God has overcome our evil by his own goodness.
Dear Father, thank you for not leaving us to our own destructive patterns of thought and action. Thank you for overcoming the evil in the world in the goodness of Christ crucified and risen. Thank you for the gift of your Spirit, who shapes us and constrains our lives. Dear Father, Son and Spirit, thank you that you are good and do only God. In Jesus’ name. Amen.