“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:21 NLT)
A Word for Today
The Word of God often needs no commentary. It speaks for itself. In the book of Romans the apostle Paul is emphasizing unity among the believers in addition to service to others, humility, forgiveness and doing good. Although written 2,000 years ago the book is still relevant and we can make several applications to our daily living.
In this devotional, we look at one chapter to glean it’s relevance. Using the NLT version, let’s dive into Romans 12. 21 verses.
A Living Sacrifice
12 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.
What’s a living sacrifice? This life isn’t to be all about us. As Christians we have a responsibility to look out for others, to help where we can.
2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Humble Service in the Body of Christ
3 For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.
Let’s guard against arrogance.
4 For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5 so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.
Here’s an emphasis on unity but not uniformity. We need a common purpose and a shared understanding that Christ died for everyone. Each of us has a role to play within the family of God.
6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith;
Within this context biblical commentators suggest that the prophet’s most fundamental responsibility is not to predict the future but to communicate God’s message to the world.
7 if it is serving, then serve;
We should all be servants in some way. In the home. On the job. In the streets.
…if it is teaching, then teach; 8 if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously;
Some of us know how to give, not just money, but of our time and knowledge.
…if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.
Love in Action
9 Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.
11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.
We are not to judge. We never know a person’s final thoughts or the decisions that they may make that they do not get to communicate. Rather than judge, we need to pray for one another.
13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.
Some of us cast shade when we get a few dollars in our pockets, acquire a nice house or a car. After achieving that PhD, we no longer wish to mix with the working class. Rather than do this, let’s not lose the common touch or forget where we came from….
17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.
20 On the contrary, ‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.’
…let’s do simple acts of kindness!
21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
This can be a real challenge to us as we consider the climate and society in which we live—i.e. to overcome evil by doing good.
Doing good includes fighting for civil rights, equality in our judicial systems, ensuring that educational opportunities and proper healthcare is available to all; however, in addition to some of these macro initiatives, let us not overlook the opportunities to do good in our homes, our workplaces, and among our fellow believers.
May God bless us as we meditate on his Word and as we seek to be a blessing to others.