“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21).
Continued from My Roman Holiday: Romans 11.
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:1-2). The apostle Paul begins Romans 12, right where he left off in the previous chapter, by urging his readers not to conform to the pattern of this world, in light of the mercy God has shown them. And the entire chapter can be summed up in the final verse: “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21).
Paul’s instructions to the Romans sound sounds a lot like the same instruction he gave to the believers at Corinth. Do not think of themselves with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to them (Romans 12:3; 1 Corinthians 10:12). Each of us has one body with many members with different functions, and so in Christ there is one body with many members with different gifts (Romans 12:4-5; 1 Corinthians 12:4,12-26). “We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully” (Romans 12:6-8). God’s grace distributes different gifts to different people, and likewise, God gives different people different work to complete. Therefore, we are called to be good stewards of these God-given abilities working together harmoniously. The Body of Christ is called to humble service, and our love must be sincere (Romans 12:9, 1 Corinthians 13:4-7). Paul urges the Roman believers: “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good” (Romans 12:9). We are called to be a people of peace (Romans 12:18).
Romans 12 is full of any number of other revelations and wonderful truths worth exploring, but I have written what I believe the Holy Spirit has guided me to write.
Romans 12 speaks into our lives today; we are called to be set apart from the world. The Gospel does not stop with negative prohibition, but goes on to the positive exhortation. Romans 12 makes the case that evil can be overpowered with good, and God has generously given His children all that they need to complete the good work given them. Until next time, and Romans 13!
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