Yesterday, my Pastor at Lifechurch in Cookeville, Bobby Davis, reminded me of a Scripture that was all but forgotten to me. I’m sad to admit this but I had not stood on this verse in a long time. “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21 NKJV). The reason I share that is because God brought it to my mind when talking to my children later that evening.
Pastor Bobby shared something to the effect that we – the Church – are on the defensive rather than the offensive. By that, I mean, that he was utilizing the metaphor of a football team to describe the Church. Obviously, there are different positions that each person within the Church are chosen to play by God. Over time, though, we often allow our comfort zone to become that which hinders us from advancing the kingdom.
Pastor referenced his own “education” in things of the Church. There was an expectation of “don’t do this” or “don’t do that” when in all actuality all that was being done was giving his sin – and everyone else’s – a name. “For no one can ever be made right with God by doing what the law commands. The law simply shows us how sinful we are” (Romans 3:20). Maybe you’ve been told that from those who practice religion within Christianity. “Don’t drink. Don’t smoke. Don’t have sex. Don’t chew. Don’t hang out with those who do.” Now, granted, advocating abstaining from certain practices is absolutely wise but to make the “tradition” higher than the “relation” is worse than the sin.
“Well then, should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more of his wonderful grace? Of course not! Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it? Or have you forgotten that when we were joined with Christ Jesus in baptism, we joined him in his death? For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives.
Since we have been united with him in his death, we will also be raised to life as he was. We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin. And since we died with Christ, we know we will also live with him” (Romans 6:1-8).
But getting back to the point, Sophia and Angus had gotten up from their nap. Amanda and I had already decided to split the afternoon/evening with them to give them each some one-on-one time. I had plans to take Sophia to Lowes and then get a bite to eat at the Manchurian Palace. The AFC Championship game was on. It was the final quarter and hard to leave when you’re hoping Tom Brady – who you don’t normally cheer for – has to do everything within him to stop Ray Lewis and the Ravens from going to the Super Bowl.
Needless to say, we got out of the door later than expected, but as we were loading up, Sophia asked me, “Daddy, can we go to a restaurant.” I began to answer her with a list of “Yes we can if you don’t ______.” How awful! Rather than giving her a yes or no, I put stipulations on her request. That, in and of itself, isn’t the bad thing about it. What’s bad is that my initial response was to give her a list of “don’ts.”
God nailed me with what Pastor Bobby said earlier; “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21 NKJV). What a great place to show Sophia that we can do things in a positive light! So I changed my tone. I said, “Yes, we can go to the restaurant if you have what?” Sophia said, “If I’m nice, if I smile, and if I hug myself?” She melted my heart! Thank God for little girls.
It’s a no-brainer that I’ve often acted like I don’t have a brain in the issue. Why bring my child up with the negative side of options all the time. I can teach her to begin with the thought that a lot of teachers utilize in school. The students start out with 100 or an “A” average. It’s only by jacking things up do their grades get any lower. So by doing the right thing, the reward is exactly what they expected and sometimes even richer!
Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good – Romans 12:21 NLT
Here’s your challenge: read Romans!