Christian In The Face Of Evil
“Make every effort to live in peace with everyone”
Hebrews 12:14 (TNIV)
At an official reception during the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln was overheard to refer to Southerners as “erring human beings,” purposely avoiding use of the word “enemies.”
A woman in attendance took Lincoln to task for speaking kindly of the Union’s enemies, when, in her opinion, he ought to be speaking of “destroying them.”
“Why, madam,” Lincoln replied, “do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends?”
As Christians, we’re exhorted not to return evil for evil, but rather “overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:17 & 21). This involves “turning the other cheek” (Matthew 5:39), a much misunderstood phrase meaning that we’re not to have a retaliatory and vindictive attitude, but instead to go out of our way to avoid conflict and live in a peaceable manner. Those efforts will not always be successful, nor always even possible, but it ought to be our goal.
Many wonder how this advice applies in a world of violent abusers and vicious, hardened criminals. Turning the other cheek does not mean that Christians are required to be passive victims of violence, abuse and exploitation. Self-defence is an appropriate Christian response. However, it should not be in a spirit of retaliation or revenge, but for the purpose of stopping the aggressor and thereby helping restrain further evil.
Our everyday challenges will usually not be of that extreme type. Our adversaries will most likely be thoughtless neighbours, ambitious co-workers, demanding bosses and feuding relatives. In most cases, we can, with love, care and patience, conquer those “enemies” — by making them our friends! And in doing that we’re participating in the very life of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Why not join with others in prayer today, the International Day Of Prayer For The Persecuted Church, lifting up your voice to God?
Help me not to return evil with evil, but to overcome evil with good. In Jesus’ name.
Study by Joseph Tkach