Responding to Evil with Burning Coals

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By Mark Tetley

On Monday of this week, the world was shocked once again by another terrorist attack. As attendees were leaving an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester  England a suicide bomber detonated his device taking his life and to this point the lives of twenty-two others and injuring over one hundred people.  Attacks like this are a pure manifestation of evil. 

Hopefully, you will never have to face an attack of this nature in your life. However, at some point, we will all be attacked in some way by someone meaning to cause us harm. It could be a jealous coworker who begins spreading false rumors around work. It could occur in the form of a physical attack while we are out for a dinner and a movie. It could be a verbal attack by someone close to us.  Evil is revealed in many different forms. 

The Scriptures have a profound message for us when we find ourselves under attack. 

Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all.       –Romans 12:17

To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.    –Romans 12:20-21

Daily we see on display before us politicians that look for any opportunity to exploit a flaw in their opponents, social media mouthpieces that seek to bash anything they deem as wrong, and governments that seek to show their might before the world. The Scriptures would call us to focus on Jesus Christ’s actions while on earth. He dealt with people trying to cause him harm throughout his entire life. He never responded to evil with evil. Instead, he sought the welfare of all people. His example was carried forward by His followers after His ascension, which we find being written about in the book of Romans. 

The Christian has one responsibility in relation to others: LOVE. Love when it is easy and love when it is difficult. Everything else should be left in the hands of those who are responsible for carrying out justice. It is easy to respond to evil with evil. Responding like this only continues to keep the hatred alive. However, it is supernatural to respond to evil with love by showing genuine compassion for the other person or persons. Love will take the air out of evil and suffocate it so that it does not spread. 

After the 9/11 attacks, it was discovered that some of the men involved went to a pilot training school three miles from where I lived. I studied their faces and did not recognize them. Even though I didn’t know them, I began to think that our paths might have crossed. It is possible that we went to the same grocery store or coffee shop, or maybe we passed each other in the mall. Then I wondered what impact I could have had on them if I had the opportunity to demonstrate Christ’s love to them through my words or actions. I will never know, but I did resolve to never waste an interaction that I have with someone no matter how brief. 

When we see evil manifest itself we often look for something to be done to stop this kind of horror from happening in the future. While I am not naive enough to think that evil can be eliminated by our actions. I do believe that good is much stronger than evil and that love is stronger than hate. As more people commit to doing good and showing love lives will be changed before evil manifests itself. 

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