Woke up early as usual with last night’s Real LIFE Foundation graduation dinner on my mind. Very fittingly, as I was reading my Bible, at the very end of Romans 12, were these words:
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (verse 21)
How is a Christian supposed to respond to the evils of the world? To corruption? To poverty? To violence? To greed? To apathy? To pride? To selfishness? To the many things that plague society and us as individuals?
Overcome evil with good. Not with useless rants or unintelligent opinion, not with group condemnation nor mob rule, but by doing good. Many times we think that what “good” means is “being nice” or “not doing anything bad”. It is obviously more than that. It is being a person of such excellent quality, growing in spirit, soul, and body, that we are always able to respond to all circumstances in love acted out.
I like how this last section of Romans 12 is titled Love in Action, and how it talks about sincerity, clinging to good, devotion to one another, honoring one another, keeping zeal, being joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. It talks about sharing with those in need and practicing hospitality. It talks about blessing those who persecute us, about rejoicing, about mourning, about living in harmony, about not being proud, about associating with people of low position. On and on it goes with ACTIONS, things to do, not suggestions, not cool ideas, or “this made me cry” posts.
If we truly want to overcome the evil in this world, we need to respond with actions.
Yet how can we act if we are ignorant. We can’t. Good works without wisdom leads to waste. So we must stop settling for ignorance and seek to learn how to truly do good work. I don’t know how many people have told me they want to get involved but simply don’t know how. My suggestion is, start by getting to know the needs of the people in your own home and businesses. The most efficient way, the least expensive way to help the poor, is to help those already in your homes and offices.
How can we act if we is incapable? we can’t. We can only give what we have. We are only so strong we will only be able to lift so much. So we must increase our capability mainly through three ways: personal discipline that perseveres through suffering and builds our character, joining our capabilities with those of others to create synergies, and, most important, offering what we have, truly offering, to God, just as the boy with 5 loaves and 2 fish saw his seemingly small capability multiplied. He was prepared (he had food to begin with), he was willing to offer it, and Jesus multiplied it. The practical actions here are:
1. Be disciplined. Grow. Be amazing. Be generous
2. Find a trustworthy organisation you can partner with
3. Partner with Jesus. He’s the one who turns our humble offering into miracles for thousands
How can we act if we are more like a glorified social media mob than people on a mission? We can’t. We’ll think a status is as good as a conviction. It’s not. It’s a bunch of words and talk is cheap. We’ll think a like, a share is the ultimate show of support. It’s not. I’m sure it helps somehow but we can do more. We must do more. Proof of our conviction, of what we really value, is where we place our time, energy, and money. These are the unmistakable indicators of our lives.
I regularly evaluate myself on these things and find myself lacking in zeal for God, for others, and so full of selfishness. I need to change that.
Here’s something I practice to help me stay others-focused despite having my own needs, wants, pressures, challenges, and opportunities – all valid things but make me so prone to selfish-living.
I look out the window before I look in the mirror.
Before I face myself and all that I need and want for me, I look out the window, look up to God to face Him first to be greeted by His love before my concerns, then I look out, at the people walking, at the buildings, at lives basically, and remind myself of them first.
This simple practice helps me frame my day, which needs continuous framing given how selfish and prideful I truly am.
I was reminded of the benefits that people enjoy when we get together to give, to serve, to receive, and to make the most of our blessings. This was tangibly seen in how everyone, from students to donors, were blessed last night with the fruit of what Real LIFE has been doing. It fired me up to do more, particularly for the people directly around me. It made me want to encourage others, you, to do more too.
To overcome evil we must overcome with good.
If our ACTIONS form but a tiny puddle in an ocean of evil who do we think will overcome who?
The answer is obvious. So, no wonder.