Each day I’ll read and S.O.A.P. one chapter of Romans. S.O.A.P. is a simple way to focus on what God is speaking to you through what you read. It stands for Scripture, Observation, Application, & Prayer.
Every time I read a chapter God always focuses my heart and mind around a specific part of that chapter. Sometimes it’s just a verse. Sometimes it’s more than that. That verse or group of verses becomes the focus of my devo.
There’s one other practice that helps me know, understand and follow scripture – memorization. Consider memorizing the verse or verses you S.O.A.P.
Romans 12:21, “Don’t be overcome with evil but overcome evil with good.” (NKJV)
Paul quickly goes from doctrinal and philosophical to practical. This passage is full of a world of practical advice for those who Believe. However, it’s more than simply practical. It is the natural outflow of a life that has been saved by Jesus Christ. He starts the passage, “Therefore, I beseech you brethren by the mercies of God…” In other words because of all the truth of chapters 1 – 11 here’s what you should now do. You don’t do these things in order to be made right with God, but because you have been made right with God.
The last verse sum it all up nicely, “Do not be overcome with evil, but overcome evil with good.”
If you practice Scripture memory Romans 12:21 is a good one to memorize (several in this passage are). Romans 12:21 has the added advantage of being easy to memorize. First, it’s short. Second there is a play on words here that makes it memorable. Like the numbers themselves, it’s a mirror image of itself. Write a 12. Look at it in a mirror you see 21. Romans 12:21, “Do not be overcome with evil, but overcome evil with good.”
I’ll bet you have it memorized all ready.
Now for the hard part – actually living it out. It’s so easy to give in to the temptation to fight fire with fire. When someone is nasty to you don’t you have permission to be nasty back? When someone is mean isn’t the appropriate response meanness? Like in the movie The Untouchables if someone brings a knife to a fight shouldn’t you bring a gun? If your enemy puts one of yours in the hospital shouldn’t you put one of theirs in the morgue? Strength must be met with strength, right!?
That’s not exactly what the last part of Romans 12 teaches. It tells us to kill ’em with kindness and love ’em to death. It’s counterintuitive. Instead of escalation respond with the opposite of what seems natural. It tells us that what seems like a strong response isn’t actually strong at all. Evil verses evil only destroys. Good verses evil allows you to overcome.
Why do you think so many people struggle with the same relational issues over and over again? It’s because they attempt to overcome evil with evil. Look at the word evil – spell it backwards.
l – i – v- e
It’s another mirror image. You can be evil or you can live, but you can’t do both. An evil response to an evil act will always lead to an evil outcome. A good response to an evil act leads to life.
Thank you for not doing to me what seems natural in regards to my response to you. I rejected you. I rebelled against you. I denied you. I doubted you. I am complicit in the death of your son. Thank your for not returning to me evil for evil. Instead you have done exceeding abundantly above all I could ask your think. Your goodness has overcome my evil and brought life. Teach me today to do the same. Show me the good response to every evil circumstance and allow me to overcome the evil in my life and the evil in my world with your goodness and lovingkindness.
I love you, in Jesus name –