Every great story includes a battle between good and evil. The representations of the two sides vary—Frodo versus Mordor in “The Lord of the Rings,” Aslan versus the White Witch in “The Chronicles of Narnia”—the conflict is always there. Most stories end with a sigh of relief when, against all odds, good triumphs once again.
We want to believe that this is always the case, but in the reality of this world, where evil continues to reign, we see battles lost more than we like to admit. Corrupt governments starve their people. Innocent children are abused. Christians still die for their faith.
When good seems to be losing the battle to evil, we need to heed the words of the Apostle Paul in Romans 12:21 (NIV), “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
Just as battles are lost and hope wanes in fictional stories, so it is true in our lives and the world around us. In these times, we must remember that each battle is a part of the bigger war, a war where the final battle has already been fought and won—on the cross and in the grave. What Satan intended for evil, our God transformed into the ultimate good.
The story of the death and resurrection of Jesus is the ultimate example of good triumphing over evil. It is “the good news.” It is the basis behind all that is taught in scripture:
Turn the other cheek.
Walk the extra mile.
A soft answer turns away wrath.
Bless those who persecute you.
If we try to fight evil with the weapons used against us—fear, anger, hurt, ridicule, selfishness—we will never win. Our enemy knows that and is thrilled to see us take up his tools. These are not the weapons designed for our hands.
Love, truth, forgiveness, patience, self-sacrifice, kindness—these are the weapons of our army. They are the weapons which Jesus used to win the ultimate battle.
The power of choosing “the good” has been demonstrated on the public stage by leaders like Martin Luther King Jr. and Gandhi, who by peaceful resistance brought significant change to the culture they lived in. Others, like the ten Boom family and Marion Pritchard, battled against the evil perpetuated by Hitler’s regime by risking their lives helping and hiding Jews. Pritchard, when asked why she did what she did, answered like many of her Dutch countrymen, “…it was the right thing to do.”
In the award-winning movie, “Chariots of Fire,” Eric Liddell is forced to make a choice of conscience. Would he break his promise to God not to run on Sundays or give up his opportunity to run in the Olympic games? Criticized for being disloyal to his country and a hindrance to Olympic teammates, he stood his ground. When allowed to race in an event he hadn’t trained for, we see the triumph of good. Liddell is the first across the finish line, winning a gold medal despite the odds stacked against him.
Acts of kindness, goodness, and self-sacrifice are powerful. Our enemy knows that. He will do his best to dissuade you with whispers of “What difference will it make?” and “Nobody will know.” The presence of an inner battle should make your spirit take notice. Where are the whispers coming from? Is it the gentle voice of the Holy Spirit or is it the insistent, manipulative voice of the enemy?
We face these choices every day in little and big ways. How will you respond to the hurtful remark from a family member? The offer to pay you “off the books?” Or the vote on a piece of legislation which goes against God’s law?
Will relationships and culture be immediately transformed by your actions? Maybe, but often not. The victory of the cross has decided the war, but each of our individual battles count. They make a difference in our lives and the wider sphere around us.
What can you do to overcome evil with good today?