We showed up for our homeschool classes on a typical Wednesday morning. As we entered the building, a mom took me aside and whispered in my ear:
“We’re on lockdown. There’s an active shooter in the area so don’t let your kids back outside.” That day we went home safe. But it was a stark reminder about how quickly a day can change. Evil, abuse, and controversy scream from the headlines. At times our culture celebrates it, other times it rightly abhors it. Regardless, it can leave me feeling helpless. What can I do?
The answer that the Lord has whispered in my heart over and over has been this: overcome evil with good. I can’t stop evil men from carrying out evil deeds. But I can in my own small way overcome evil by doing the good, God-glorifying work that Christ has called me to do.
Here are 6 things each of us can do today to overcome evil with good:
How to Overcome Evil with Good: Remember that You Are Created for Good
In the face of evil I must remember I was created for good. In a passage where Paul tells his readers to bless those who curse us, not to repay evil with evil, and to live in peace and harmony with others as much as we can, he ends the paragraph with this sentence: “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21). Overcoming evil with good starts with treating people in a God-honoring way. It means recognizing my inherent worth and the worth of my neighbor, no matter what the world may tell me.
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2. Remind Yourself that You Are Prepared for Good
Our world has so many needs, it is easy to become overwhelmed and think that what I do will not make a lasting impact. This may be because I see myself as too insignificant to make a difference. But my significance is not the issue. God has work prepared in advance for me to accomplish. As Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” God has prepared good works for me to accomplish in my lifetime. That doesn’t mean the task will be easy, but it does mean God will strengthen me to do what he calls me to do.
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How to Overcome Evil with Good: Start Small
Intellectually, I know the world needs the light of good works to shine and I know that God will equip me. My heart resonates with the old saying, “It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.” But I often struggle with where to begin practically. This is often because I start thinking of all the “important” ways I’d like to participate in doing good: helping with refugee placement at a local nonprofit in my area, offering childcare at a local women’s shelter, or volunteering with an organization that helps women who have been sex trafficked.
Perhaps my idea of good works is too large right now. It’s true, doing good could look like adopting a child, providing foster care, or heading up a non-profit. But right now as a mom to four—including a toddler—my capacity to participate in the ways I dream of is not really an option for me in this season of life. So I need to start small.
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4. Start at Church
You might be surprised to find many hurting and needy people in your own church. In the same passage where Paul tells us to overcome evil with good he also instructs, “Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality (Romans 12:13).” Does someone need a meal, a ride, or prayer? Is someone having surgery and need emotional support? Does someone have financial needs? Does your church already volunteer in the community? You may be surprised how much you're needed in your own church.
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How to Overcome Evil with Good: Start Local
We’ve been told to “think global, act local.” I can’t think of a better way think about combating evil than where it exists in my own town or city. I might not be able to solve the refugee crises but I can help refugee organizations in our own country. I might not be able to adopt but I can sponsor a child in poverty to give them an educational advantage. I might not be able to mentor victims of sex trafficking right now, but I’m doing what I can where I am right now, like:
· Donating baby items to the local women’s shelter instead of trying to sell them.
· Gathering supplies from members in my church to donate to the housing needs of refugees.
· Sponsoring a child through an organization that will see to his medical and educational needs.
· Gifting a Thanksgiving basket of food supplies to the organization that helps victims of sex trafficking.
Trying to make ethical purchases that empower women’s businesses around the world that will help break cycles of poverty and abuse.
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6. Don’t Let the Light Go Out
Such actions seem really small to me right now. And the desire to do more still stirs in my soul. But when I focus on shining the light and life of God’s goodness and grace into the darkness and death I see around me, I discover I’m no longer scared of it. I pray even my smallest actions will produce a legacy of love and light that pushes against the dark.
I have lit my candle. It will not go out.
Danielle Ayers Jones lives and writes outside of Baltimore, Maryland. She's has written for iBelieve.com, Ungrind.org, and FortheFamily.org. You can find her at http://danielleayersjones.com/ and on Twitter and Instagram.
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Originally published Friday, 01 October 2021.