Overcome Evil with Good
Tom Johns, Austin, Texas.

God judges our motives!

Perhaps the readers might recognize the name 'M E Cherian' - a pioneer missionary to Tamil Nadu, India. He was from Kerala and was a prolific Malayalam and Tamil hymn writer. He passed on to eternity in 1993. In one of his Malayalam hymns, 'Kaividelle yen karthaave' which means 'do not forsake me, Lord,' he included a few lines of his heartfelt lament about the reality of being misunderstood. It goes like this:

"Uttavarayalum, uthamarayalum thettidharipithee marthiya swabhavamaam."

It can be translated as, whether people of close relations or people of exemplary traits, it is merely human nature to fail to understand or to take things in the wrong sense (of someone's motives). Whether we operate in the spiritual, secular or domestic spheres, this reality follows us everywhere since we are flawed humans. We must make purposeful efforts to avoid making the same mistakes by trusting God as the ultimate Judge. This trust would make us less judgmental and less agitated when others do it against us and prevent us from ever going forward with such destructive behavior.

Romans 14 deals with the code of conduct for Christians in a unique way. If we study and practice this chapter, our lives would be a blessing to others, and we will receive peace and find the purpose for our lives. One of the key verses we find here is vs.4 "Who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master, he stands or falls; and he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand."

In the first 11 chapters of Romans, Paul taught the believers the preciousness of this salvation, expounding the doctrinal truths. In chapters 12-16, Paul outlined Christian conduct and how to behave in the church. The church in Rome was then made up of believers from Jewish and Gentile backgrounds.

Their cultural baggage and religious convictions created many conflicts. Paul taught behavioral tolerance without compromising the critical message of the gospel for the furtherance of the kingdom of God. And these are still relevant to us.

If you bite and devour one another?

Satan often works on the human ego to create division and threaten the necessary unity among the believers. Now that we live in the social media age, we all have communication platforms. Such platforms do serve both wonderfully and tragically. We have witnessed exchanges of messages that tickle the carnal senses which often showed utter disregard for these scriptural principles.

Paul was consumed in exuberance when he explained this gospel to both Jews and Gentiles. Often, he burst into much excitement about this glorious gospel and expressed it in the form of hymns or doxology. Some such examples are in Eph. 1:3 and 3:21 and Rom. 11:36. Today, we fail to follow such a pattern and to some level, are interested in finding fault with fellow believers. This is primarily done in the name of 'removing the leaven' from the holy lump.

When we lose sight of this glorious gospel, we drift into less important things. We need to tap into Paul's excitement when he wrote these epistles. This will lead us to worshipful adoration toward God. We will marvel at the work of the Father in drawing us to His Son [John 6:44], the redemptive work of Jesus Christ [1 Cor. 11:23-26], and the sustaining ministry of the Holy Spirit [John 16:7-8]. When we recognize that each believer carries within the triune God [John 14:23 and John 16:7-8], then we will start enjoying the fellowship of God to a supreme level.

Let's examine the dominating forces that are taking us captive in our Christian journey. Mine can be different from yours. But the Spirit of God can bring us to the point of us becoming conformed to the image of Jesus Christ [Rom. 8:29] by chipping away what is not Christ-like. Then we will be less judgmental and be more compassionate and start recognizing our faults by which we grieve the Holy Spirit.

Also, we will start noticing how far we fall short of the supreme calling that we received when God saved us. We see a strong warning in Matt 7: 3-5. "Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' and behold, the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye." This is a very strong warning to each of us.

'Thettidharipithee Marthiya Swabhavamaam' – [It is merely human nature to fail to understand or take things in the wrong sense.]

It is discouraging to see that we are criticized when our heart is right with God, and we are exercising according to the light we received from the Word of God and guided by the Holy Spirit. Even the Lord Jesus Christ was accused wrongly by the religious elites of His day. 'Behold a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.' Luke 7:34.

They did not have the spiritual discernment to comprehend the very purpose of Jesus' advent to this Planet. His mission was misunderstood. He came to save the sinners and not the self-proclaimed righteous ones. Luke 5:27-32.

When we carry this message and remain as the ambassadors of Christ, we cannot expect any better. [Luke 23:31] 'If they do these things when the tree is green, what will happen when it is dry?' His followers are asked to march to a different drumbeat than that of the world. 'Do not be overcome by evil but overcome evil with good.' Rom. 12:21.

Let me encourage us all with a verse from 1 Cor. 15:58. "Therefore my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord."

When we tear down others, it is like blowing out another's candle thinking that it will make our candle shine brighter. Instead, we are to be united and block against the winds Satan is amassing and protect all our candles to shine brighter. The unadulterated message of the gospel and the unfailing love among and between God's people, united with a common purpose may be what is pleasing to the Lord. How well are we doing in this regard?

If there is room for improvement, which I do believe we do have, let us begin praying earnestly with united hearts. None of the commands of God can be carried out with our efforts alone. It needs divine help.

The Bible teaches two essential principles in this regard. The blessings are conditioned upon our response to faith, and secondly, God ultimately enables us to achieve faith and obedience. This admission and the subsequent actions would demonstrate our total dependency on our sovereign God.



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