Evil is real. But beneath the political rhetoric about military action, immigration policies and international alliances, there’s a larger truth we need to pay attention to:
At the end of the day, ordinary people — not politicians — are the ones who have the power to overcome evil.
Evil isn’t about ethnicity or geography. It’s about the way we live our lives. And the way we beat it is by learning to overcome evil with good.
It’s up to us to overcome evil with good
In Romans 12:21, Paul offers a piece of advice that is more relevant now than it’s ever been:
“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
Overcoming evil with good isn’t as easy as it sounds. Well wishes and good intentions aren’t enough. The best way — in fact, maybe the only way — to truly defeat evil is through our actions. By becoming better people, we live our lives in a way that raises a middle finger to evil and in the process, changes the world.
1. Help people.
The world runs on self-interest. From economic systems to our daily routines, we’re conditioned to put ourselves and our own interests above everything else.
Violent extremism is just an extension of the self-interest theme. When it’s my way or the highway, the end justifies the means and the lives of hundreds or even thousands of innocents are simply collateral damage.
To overcome evil with good, we have to become more intentional about helping people who can’t offer us anything in return. Offer an encouraging word, lend a hand, be kind — there are dozens of ways to drive a stake in evil by laying down your self-interest on a daily basis.
2. Love your neighbor.
“Love your neighbor as yourself.” It’s part two of Jesus’ great commandment. But evil treats its neighbors as objects, not people. It strips the humanity out of life and turns children of God into nameless faces who should be feared rather than respected or loved.
Your neighbors aren’t just the people who live next door. They’re the people you meet every single day: at work, at school, on the street. When it comes to identifying your neighbors, there are no litmus tests. In the parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus says that whether you like it or not, everyone is your neighbor.
You don’t have to agree with your “neighbors,” but you have to love them. And that means treating them with the same respect and decency that you want others to give to you.
3. Enjoy life.
There are no guarantees in this world. If we’ve learned anything, it’s that life is short and it can change in a heartbeat. We can’t afford to use words like “tomorrow” or “someday” because life is lived in present moments. In the right here, right now.
Evil wants to force your present moments into a box filled with fear, anger and bitterness. It wants to steal the simple joys of life, and rob you of the experiences that cultivate your relationship with God and other people.
Step out of the box. Enjoy life. Overcome evil with good by savoring every single moment, by experiencing new things and by having the courage to welcome new people into your life.