I am a quiet girl who has always desired a quiet life. I love certainty and stability. I love life free from drama, conflict, and chaos. The rules used to be simple: Don’t mess with me, and I won’t mess with you.
However, being reborn into God’s family changes all of that. Because the world hates my Father, the world hates me as well. I am now part of the eternal spiritual battle waging fiercely for every soul of this world. Whether I choose to fight or not, the fight comes to me.
This spiritual fight we are all in sometimes comes in the form of betrayal, rejection, heartache, and pain. I have lost a lot of friends and made a lot of enemies. Because of His great love, I persevere.
“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” – Romans 12:21
One of my toughest teachings of the Bible comes from Romans chapter 12. This chapter is a masterclass in practical Christianity and demonstrates the true marks of those who follow Jesus. Our passage today tells us to “overcome evil with good.” What does overcoming evil look like?
“Bless those who persecute you, bless and do not curse.” – Romans 12:14
“Do not repay anyone evil for evil; consider what is good before all people. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all people. Do not avenge yourselves, dear friends, but give place to God’s wrath, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. Rather, if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in doing this you will be heaping burning coals on his head.” – Romans 12:17-20
Even as I read these verses, my lips press tightly together. I can feel my heart begin to harden and the walls around it begin to climb. I think of those who have violated my body; those who manipulated my mind; those who willfully crushed my soul. To forgive my enemies, to pray for them, to bless them, this seems too difficult, too hard, too scary.
To be perfectly honest, I have played pretty good lip service to these verses. My version of blessing my enemies was putting them completely out of mind, being apathetic to their existence, and avoiding them like the plague. With God, neutrality is not an option. We either love like God loves or we don’t love at all!
“But I say to you who are listening: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. To the person who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other as well, and from the person who takes away your coat, do not withhold your tunic either.” – Luke 6:27-29
I have to tell you, ladies. These verses scare me. Forgiveness scares me. I know it is right. I know that God commands it. I know forgiveness will yield God’s blessings, His peace, and His joy. I truly need all of those things, and I really, really want to forgive. Yet, I struggle.
In all actuality, my struggle to forgive exposed some fears I didn’t even know I had:
- I am afraid to open my heart fully to the threat of new pain, fresh heartache, and disappointment.
- I am afraid if I forgive I will be perceived as weak and will invite more disrespect and dishonor.
- I am afraid if I give away too much selflessly, there will be so much less love for myself.
- I worry I’m not up to the task of forgiveness. that I’m not “spiritual” enough, disciplined enough, or good enough to be used for God.
God is so faithful. He plants Himself in the center of my fear and exposes these lies with His light so brightly that only His truth can stand.
“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do the same.” – Luke 6:32-33
God’s truth is this: You and I are not defined by what has happened to us; not by the pain we have experienced, not by the hardships we have endured, not by the fears that we continue to face. We are identified only as the forgiven daughters of the King of the universe!
Because we are His daughters, God’s will for our lives demands that we love even when it hurts.
I want my body to be a “sin-free” zone. Not only free of my own sins, but also free of the sins committed against me. I didn’t realize by refusing to forgive, I was preserving their sin deep inside my heart and mind. Their sin (which I was stubbornly clinging to in unforgiveness) was producing putrid fruit in my life which was destroying not only me, but damaging my husband and children as well. The only choice I had was to allow God to expose and cut it out, and all surgery is painful.
When I struggle to forgive, God is teaching me to stand in the position of authority in which He has placed me, to stand firmly, proudly, and boldly, to love hard and shine like no other. It would be insulting to shrink from the abundant love that God promises to me and through me.
It is hard, but He is so worth it.
God desires to use His daughters powerfully to combat this world’s great evil with His love. We are His modern-day supernatural superheroes! Since our God is greater than any evil, our love will speak louder than any evil.
I remember this when I’m called to a love that hurts. I remember this and cling to Jesus. I am a quiet girl, but I love loud!
Where are you fearful or anxious about loving your enemies and forgiving freely? How can we pray for you as you overcome evil with good?
Peace and grace to you,