“Conquer Evil With WHAT?”A devotion by Pastor Ralph J MinroAs a leader of worship, I especially appreciate when lay people read from the Bible during worship, lead the prayers, sing a special anthem, play an instrumental piece of music. It allows me to put my leadership on hold for a while and be ministered to by others. Last Sunday, the reader of scripture (my wife, Jo) was reading, with deep meaning, some powerful Bible passages. There was a sense that the Word of God was flowing through her heart and mind and soul.
Just as she reached the end of her final reading, she made a mistake! She read a word that wasn’t there. She quickly went back and corrected herself. Now, I’m not being rude by pointing this out. Normally, we simply move past mistakes in worship (including my own). But this mistake inspired me with an important understanding of the passage.
This is what Jo was supposed to read (Romans 12:21): “Do not let evil defeat you; instead, conquer evil with good.” This is what she read by mistake: “Do not let evil defeat you; instead, conquer evil with God.” I absolutely love that error! It was like hearing a mini-sermon! Paul’s teaching to do good deeds or good works to overcome evil isn’t exactly easy, nor does it always seem to work. So we do best by seeking the HIGHEST GOOD for our actions. Of course the highest GOOD is GOD! Truth is, God is the greatest, and only, power
to truly overcome evil. When Paul challenges us to “conquer evil,” certainly we know we can’t do this without God!
So when you’re confronted with evil, or you hear of evil, invoke God. Pray. Ask God to be with you. Pray for those who harm you. Ask God to give grace to evil-doers. As difficult as it is to pray for those who do evil, it’s necessary.
Let’s revisit Jo’s mistake, and continue it. Try this on for size: “conquer evil with love.” That works since God IS love. Or try, “conquer evil with patience.” Even, “conquer evil with gentleness.” Paul earlier wrote to avoid revengeful actions. This puts that into practice.
When Paul said to “conquer evil with good,” I doubt he meant to limit this to a single word. It’s a challenge to make a real difference in the world around us. There’s a lot of depth to this challenge. It means that we’re to be constantly connected to God. It means to reject the evil-doing behavior of others and of ourselves. It means that, if we’ve somehow turned ourselves over to “the dark side,” we’re called back into the light of Christ. God will always take us back and give us the goodness we need. Together we are to participate in God’s victory, the conquering of evil.
Try a simple morning prayer: “Loving God, give me your GOOD today, let it remain with me and grow through the day, in the name of your greatest GOOD: Christ Jesus, our Lord. Amen.”