It’s amazing how often God gives me opportunity to put into practice the stuff that I preach. Last week I was preaching from Romans 12 where it says don’t be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. That very night someone stole my wallet out of my truck and proceeded to go on a bit of a spending spree. Fortunately we caught it mid-morning and were able to take the necessary action. But I have to admit that overcoming this evil with good wasn’t where my thoughts were at until God brought me up short and reminded me of the sermon.
I haven’t had the opportunity to direct this approach at the perpetrator, but the evil in my heart was definitely overcome by God’s goodness. It got me thinking about what Paul means by overcome. Let me give you a picture that might help explain.
Wendy and I were in Hawaii with her folks for their 25th Anniversary. We were sitting on a beach together and she went into the water to cool off. She wasn’t far off shore but was about chest deep as the bottom dropped away sharply. As she was enjoying the relaxing ebb and flow of the waves the water level dropped to her knees. Unfortunately she didn’t realise what this event preceded, nor did she catch my shouting and pointing in warning till too late. A massive wave came out of “nowhere” and towered over her. She panicked eyes wide with sudden terror and tried to outrun the wave. You can imagine what happened: she was overcome by the wave. (By the way if this happens to your wife, for the love of Pete, don’t let her see you laughing when she crawls out of the foam gasping and sputtering, hair in her face and sand everywhere!)
That’s the picture (the wave, not my poor wife) that Paul had in mind; an irresistible wave of love and mercy and grace overcoming everyone in its path. I’ve always read that Romans verse as pointing outward, that is, overcoming evil someone does to you. It is, but first the evil in me needs to be overcome.
The first couple of verses of 1John 5 tell us that anyone born of God overcomes the world. Do you have some evil in your world that needs to be overcome? Maybe it’s time you sat down with God to truly understand what it means to be “born of God.” And when you do, expect the wave to hit you first.