One of the most important things we need to learn is how to trust God and walk by faith when people don’t treat us the way they should. What is our natural response when we are mistreated? To get angry, isn’t it? Though feeling angry in such situation is our natural response but God’s Word reminds us that we should overcome that response. We shouldn’t return evil for evil or anger for anger. We all know that being angry never makes anything better. Getting upset is not the way God wants us to fight our battles.
Romans 12:21 says “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” To overcome evil with good, we have to be more intentional about it and start helping people who can’t offer us anything in return. Offer an encouraging word, lend a helping hand, and or be kind to such people. There are so many ways to overcome evil by surrendering our selfish-interest on a daily basis. But if we are honest with ourselves, it sounds very difficult. Many times it is tough for us to do this for the good of our fellow Christians, then how can we do it for the ones who are mistreating us. Paul commands us not to be overcome by evil, but to overcome evil with good. If we are strong in Christ, we have a great opportunity to overcome evil with good as Christ taught us.
From a worldly perspective, this approach seems naive and appears to concede defeat, but the apostle Paul knew better. He had learned that God’s ways are not the world’s ways. He also understood the profound power we have through Christ. When he was subjected to intense and repeated personal attacks, he described his response with these words: “For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. God has given us the freedom and power to turn from sin (and conflict), to be conformed to the likeness of Christ, and to be his ambassadors of reconciliation. It is the realization of who we are in Christ that inspires us to do the unnatural work of dying to self, confessing sin, addressing others’ wrong doings graciously, laying down our own rights, and forgiving deep hurts—even with people who persist in opposing or mistreating us.
Christianity revolutionized the world because its teachings are so radically different from anything this world offers. I would like for us to review what the Scriptures teach us about how we are to deal with difficult people and how we are to treat people who treat us badly. If we follow what God tells us, we will be happier people and make a real difference in this world. So we need to have a general principle that applies to every situation where we are dealing with people. In Romans Chapter 12:17 we see this principle “Never pay back evil for evil to anyone”. This means when someone does something bad to us (evil), we are not to do something bad back to them. When someone does something hurtful and mean to us, we are not to do something hurtful and mean back. We are not to do bad things to others when they do bad things to us because if we do, we become just like them. Paul says instead of being “overcome by evil”, we should “overcome evil with good.” That means we don’t allow the bad things that people do to us make us do bad but we fight against it by being good.
1 Thessalonian 5:15 says “See that no one repays another with evil for evil, but always seek after that which is good for one another and for all men.” Paul says that we must always seek to treat others good. We must do whatever would be good for the other person even if they have treated us badly. It is not easy to do something good for someone who has been mean to us. It is not easy to do good for someone who has hurt us. It is not easy to do good for someone who hates us. But, that is what is commanded of us as Christians. Do you know what it is called? It is called love – when you treat others good after they treat you bad. Not just any kind of love, but a very special love- agape love, the most amazing kind of love in the universe. It is the kind of love that comes from God.
Luke 6: 32-33 say, “And 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? For even sinners do the same.” Jesus says if you love only those who love you and do good things for only those who do good things for you, what is so great about that? Even the worse people of this world do that. If someone is making life hard for us, if they are mistreating us, if someone spreads bad things about us, if someone calls us names or makes fun of us, Jesus says that we need to pray for them. We need to pray that God would help change their hearts. We need to pray that they would come to understand that they shouldn’t behave as they do. We need to ask God to help them change. In every situation, we need to treat people the same way that we want them to treat us.