Monday Devotional
January 20, 2020

Dear Friend,

Romans 12:21 says, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” These are deeply challenging words. This is the kind of advice that one can spend a lifetime trying to live up to.

The first portion of the verse, “do not be overcome by evil” is a reminder that it is easy to succumb to the evil of others. There are many today who live as if the Golden Rule stated, “Do unto others as they have done to you.” That is not how it reads. The Golden Rule says that we are to “do unto others as we would want others to do to us.” It is a very important difference. Just because someone is unkind doesn’t give one permission to do the same. We are called to treat one another in the manner we would want to be treated. I suppose one might argue that they don’t mind being treated unkindly, but I suspect most of us want to be treated with kindness and respect.

So, the first portion of this verse challenges us not to be overcome by the evil around us. Our manner of action is determined by an inner compass of justice and compassion rather than the outward circumstances of society.

The second portion of this verse advises us on how to respond to the evil. Too often the societal advice is to seek revenge and retribution. But the stronger person is the one who can break the cycle of violence and hatred. It was Gandhi who said, “An eye for an eye will only leave the world blind.” The only way to bring lasting and positive change is through the difficult tasks of forgiveness, reconciliation and love.

I share this verse and these words on this Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday. More than fifty years after his assassination, his words continue to inspire and challenge how we treat one another. Let me leave you with these wise words that he spoke on several occasions. He said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”