Matters of Faith: Exercise Self-Control

“Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.”

Romans 12:17-18 NKJV

The subject of this article is difficult. The COVID-19 pandemic, social distancing, personal protection equipment, and 100,000 deaths nationwide — 20,000-plus in the African American community alone. Then, we get the George Floyd killing, the Cooper accusation in Central Park, 200 persons arrested in Brooklyn, not to mention the threat of violence by the President of the United States against those who looted stores and burned buildings in Minneapolis. Yes, this one is difficult.

As an African American male, it is excruciatingly hard to put into words the pain and the anxiety that is sweeping through me. I’ve heard from other men of color and women who are mothers or grandmothers to Black males who have shared their fears and collective concern for the safety and well-being of themselves and their loved ones. The stress levels of battling the pandemic (especially in communities where the need for face coverings is not universally followed) already put us at increased risk of physical and psychological illnesses. The addition of two high-profile racially-charged incidents are pushing many to the breaking point.

That’s what makes this week’s article so difficult to write. The breaking point that many have reached, particularly in the African American community, culminated in protests, and unfortunately, some unlawful acts. Not only am I a Black man; I am also a preacher. I know the anxiety and the anger, the perplexities and the frustrations. I, too, am being pushed to the limit and need to expend my pent-up emotions. The challenge is to find a way to do that so that positive outcomes are achieved.

We have the ability to constructively affect the negative impact of COVID-19 if we decide to adhere to the guidelines provided by the medical and scientific community. We can also minimize senseless destruction, if we simply do not return evil for evil. Large gatherings during a pandemic, even if it’s for a just cause, can be detrimental to life. Looting, robbing, and destroying public and private property can lead to arrests, incarceration and further deaths.

Chapter 12 in the Book of Romans is a unique and concise guide that lists specific and practical methods showing us how to apply the word of God in situations just like the ones we are facing today. When Paul writes, “Repay no one evil for evil,” he was telling us that you do not put out a fire by throwing gasoline on it. “As much as depends on you,” lets us know that we have choices. If we choose to fan the flame of violence and expose ourselves to the ravages of a deadly virus, we can expect results that will continue as well as perpetuate the situation.

No one can blame us for demonstrating or expressing our displeasure at the disparities we continually experience in communities of color. We must exercise self-control. The choice is ours and ours alone. When we collectively exercise self-control, we will grow into a people who cannot lose!

It is a big challenge for everyone. But remember the promise Paul gives as he concludes this chapter in verse 21. It not only gives guidance, but provides the remedy for our afflictions, persecutions and our dilemmas, Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good!

Be Blessed!

Rev. J. Loren Russell is President/CEO of The JLR Company for Church Financial Strategy & Consulting; an associate minister at both Goodwill and The Greater Universal Baptist Churches in the Bronx; creator/host of “Matters of Faith – The Radio Show” on Soul 1 Radio, Monday’s 8:00 – 10:00 PM (626-226-1448) and author of Matters of Faith: The Book, an eBook available at

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