“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
Romans 12:21, NIV
In the publicity surrounding the release of the film Pearl Harbor, much was written about the Doolittle Flyers, the brave men who flew the daring initial raids on the mainland of Japan. Jacob DeShazer was one of those heroes. He was shot down and taken prisoner by the Japanese. Those notorious prison camps meant death for many American soldiers. The “lucky” ones barely survived the torture and deprivation visited on them by their Japanese tormentors. Jacob’s emaciated frame weighed barely one-hundred pounds when his camp was liberated and he could finally return home. Instead of hatred and bitterness, God gave him miraculous grace and a desire to forgive. He returned to Japan just a few years later as a missionary of the gospel of grace. His first convert, remarkably, was one of the prison guards that treated him so savagely. There is no explaining that kind of forgiveness, outside of the grace of God and the power of the Holy Spirit.
We are living with a new consciousness of the reality of evil in the world. Paul teaches in our text that we are to respond to evil in a radically different way than fallen human nature would prescribe. Instead, we are to work to overcome evil with good. The first eleven chapters of Romans teach us about a new kind of humanity. It is a humanity that has been transformed by the grace and mercy of God. Chapter 12 is the application of that new humanity. It is a fresh way to understand what God expects of His children when encountering evil. We are to overcome it with good. That is a tall order, but it is the marching order for all who call themselves the adopted children of our Heavenly Father. It is not in our strength that we do this, but the strength and power of the Holy Spirit which is unlimited.
Jacob DeShazer understood that and he put aside his hatred, overcame the monstrous evil of “man’s inhumanity to man” and became the catalyst for expansion of the Kingdom of God.
QUESTION: Have you understood the nature of your transformation? Will you surrender your bitterness and extend grace to one who has treated you wrongly? Can you do less?!