“Luci is really strong!” My daughter’s karate instructor sounded surprised, perhaps because with her slight frame and sweet demeanor, Luci is nobody’s idea of a bruiser.
Once we were in the car, Luci turned to me and said, “Mom, Lisa thinks I’m strong. Do you think I am?”
“Yes, honey. Remember when we were playing around in the kitchen last night and I was trying to fake some karate moves and you broke my hold? I couldn’t believe how strong you were.” She laughed, joyous at learning this new fact about herself.
I think we can make the same mistake in reverse when it comes to the biggest disrupter of peace in the world—the power of evil. I don’t mean to imply that evil isn’t powerful, only that it is not as strong as we think it is. Paul told the Romans, who would soon suffer persecution, that they could not merely resist evil but overcome it. How? By doing good.
Miroslav Volf comments that
“to triumph fully, evil needs two victories, not one. The first victory happens when an evil deed is perpetrated; the second victory, when evil is returned. After the first victory, evil would die if the second victory did not infuse it with new life.”1
In the world, we see this when one tribe or group of people commits an atrocity and the victims respond with retribution. The same cycle happens on an individual level, close to home. A husband lashes out, and his wife gives it back to him in spades. A child is disrespectful, and her mother goes on a rant about how vile and worthless her daughter is.
It takes strength to refrain from responding to evil with evil, but even greater strength to respond to it by doing good. If we want to enjoy God’s peace, we need to consider how we respond to the sins of others. Today let’s determine that instead of granting evil a second victory, we will deal it a decisive defeat. More
- Miroslav Volf, The End of Memory: Remembering Rightly in a Violent World (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 2006), 9.