Another mass shooting that left at least 14 dead in San Bernardino, California this week marks the sixth mass shooting in the United States in the past week! Americans find themselves responding by buying more guns, living in increased fear, or simply no longer paying attention to headlines of fellow citizens dying at the end of a bullet.
Can the Bible offer words of wisdom for our growing number of mass shootings? Though guns did not exist in the first century, evil certainly did. When the apostle Paul wrote to early Christians in Rome, they lived under the reign of Emperor Nero, a ruler later known for beheading believers or feeding them to lions. What could he say to encourage those living in dark times?
Romans 12:21 summarizes his message of hope: “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Evil exists, but so does good. Believers are called to show good through their lives to both confront evil and overcome it.
How can we overcome evil with good? Paul’s list from Romans 12:17-20 is presented in numbered form below:
- Do not repay anyone evil for evil.
- Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone.
- If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.
- Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath.
Do not repay evil with evil, do what is right, live at peace, and do not seek revenge. These words offer ways we can live through difficult times and help others along the journey.
Let us reject apathy and vengeance, turning to God in our times of trouble. When we do, we’ll find strength to do what is right and “overcome evil with good.”