Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good. — Romans 12:21 (NLT)
Do you have someone in your life that brings out the worst in you? Is there someone at work who knows how to ruin your day? Someone who repeatedly abuses your relationship and kindness? Or someone who you have labeled in your mind, ‘worse than bad’ or ‘very difficult’? I have someone in my extended family who never fails to bring out the worst in me. My family and I experienced her emotional abuse again and again. For a long time I thought her to be ‘evil.’ I responded to her with anger and frustration. I labeled her as a hopeless case and for the past years, I avoided her whenever I can.
Recently, she visited our family and it did not take long for her to upset everyone, most especially me. Her visit awakened a monster in me that I thought was long dead. There was anger, bitterness and much to my surprise, I kept a historical list of wrongs she has done to my family. That outburst shamed me. I ran to the Lord not to ask for forgiveness, but to defend myself. I reasoned she has always been difficult. I argued that if I relent, she would abuse our family again. I rationalized that someone had to teach her. I used historical data to defend myself. Our great and Living Judge was unmoved; my arguments did not merit His favor — of course.
It took some time of wrestling with the Lord before I got into that space where I surrendered and listened to Him. Ever gracious and merciful, He ever so gently reprimanded me: grace and mercy, mercy and grace. Over and over, these words echoed in my heart and mind. Never a time has the Lord not extended me His grace and mercy. His grace seeks me and leads me back to Him; His mercies give hope each day. It is His grace and mercy that enable me to live a victorious life. Assuredly, it is not mine, but the Lord’s grace and mercy that I have to extend to my relative:
His kindness by way of a gentle or encouraging word.
His patience by refusing to acknowledge minor irritants.
His forgiveness by dispensing of past shortcomings.
His compassion by acknowledging her needs and pain.
– – – All His.
My relative is not ‘evil’; difficult, but not evil. It is Christ’s goodness, His grace and mercy, working through me in humble obedience to Him, that will overcome evil.