Matters of Faith: Overcoming Evil


by Rev. J. Loren Russell, BA, MDiv

Romans 12:17-21 (NKJV)

17 Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. 18 If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. 19 Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 Therefore ‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.’ 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

“Differences become problems only when we choose to measure ourselves by our differences in an effort to determine who is right and who is wrong.” – Iyanla Vanzant

I read this quote the other morning during my devotional time and posted it on my Facebook page. I was thinking about the senseless shooting in Orlando, Florida where 49 innocent people were killed and another 53 injured. Then I thought of the random shooting that took place right here in my home town of the Bronx, NY where Jessica White, a mother of three young children was shot and killed protecting her children from bullets that have no name. I was thinking of the fact that these things are so commonplace in our world that we are shocked only momentarily, then we go on with life as usual. We have grown numb.

I found myself wondering what motivates people who perpetrate these crimes? In the Florida shooting, the finger points to ISIS, a terrorist organization that may American citizens are seeming to gravitate to in increasingly alarming number. The random shooting in the Bronx is far less romantic. As I thought about the core or root cause of the problem, the underlying issues that compel people to engage in such deviant behavior, I read the quote from Vanzant. Could it be that people are doing no more than trying to prove themselves right and others wrong? Wasn’t that the mentality in Germany, the driving force behind the slave trade, South African apartheid, colonialization, and every other oppressive government? Isn’t that one of the key ingredients in the formula used to exploit, demonize and dehumanize people? Taken to the extreme, when one person believes that their “differences” are superior to yours, you become worthless. Isn’t this the mentality that makes people think that their supposed superiority, status, and privilege, gives them license to treat people any way they want, even killing them? Isn’t that the very essence of evil?

In his writing to the Roman church, Paul says that there is a legitimate and God given method to defeat that kind of evil ideology. Superior to any evil is good. Stronger than any hate is LOVE. Greater than any fear is LOVE. More powerful than any bullet is LOVE. “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” To defeat evil at its root, drop one letter from the “good,” and read that verse, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with God!”

Be Blessed +++

Author: Rev. J. Loren Russell, BS, MDiv is President/CEO of The JLR Company, and an associate minister at both Goodwill and Greater Universal Baptist Churches in the Bronx and hosts “Matters of Faith – The Radio Show” on Soul 1 Radio (internet), Mondays 8:00 – 10:00 PM., or by phone at 646-226-1448. You call in and listen without speaking.

Services for Jessica White will be held Monday evening from 5:00 – 8:00 PM (wake), and Tuesday morning 9:00 – 10:30 (viewing), 10:45 – 11:30 (Funeral) at The Greater Universal Baptist Church, 253 East 153rd Street, Bronx, NY 10451. Officiant: Rev. Dr. J. Loren Russell

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