BE AN OVERCOMER
The Upward Look, by Jon Forrest
Be an Overcomer
Watchman Nee, a tremendous Chinese theologian, preacher, teacher, and author who lived from 1903-1972, wrote of a Christian he once knew in China. He was a rice farmer, and his fields lay high on a mountain. Every day he pumped water into the paddies of new rice. And every morning he returned to find that an unbelieving neighbor who lived down the hill had opened the dikes surrounding the Christian’s field to let the water fill his own. For a while the Christian ignored the injustice, but at last he became desperate. What should he do? His own rice would die if this continued. How long could it go on? The Christians met, prayed, and came up with this solution. The next day the Christian farmer rose early in the morning and first filled his neighbor’s fields; then he attended to his own. Watchman Nee explained that the neighbor became a Christian. His unbelief was overcome by a genuine demonstration of a Christian’s love for him and others.
Romans 12:21 gives Christians good advice “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
When someone does something unkind or hurtful to us, it is so easy to lash out at them or be vengeful. That’s the natural human reaction. After all, they deserve it. However, the result of such a move will drive a deeper wedge between us and the other person. If that person does not know Jesus, they will see that we are no different from anyone else they know. It will cause more revenge to build on still more. The problem will only grow and become worse.
Jesus told us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. Christian author, John R. W. Stott calls this Christian Counterculture. Everything about Jesus was counter to the culture of the world around him and, the last time I checked, followers of Christ are in the process of being transformed into his image (see Romans 8:29).
Throughout the centuries the unbelieving world has often seen Christ’s church and her members respond to resistance and hostility in less than Christ-like ways. We have been guilty of lashing out in anger and revenge with the idea that we must fight back. When that happens, a vicious cycle of revenge and hatred gives unbelievers more reason not to believe.
If we observe the life of Christ when he walked among us, we find him loving his enemies. We see him refusing to fight back against those who falsely accused him and those who physically abused and murdered him. His first recorded words on the cross were a prayer for his Father to forgive his executors and mockers saying they didn’t know what they were doing.
People who do harm or criticize Christian people do not know what they are doing. When Saul of Tarshis was confronted by Jesus while on the road to Damascus where he planned to persecute and imprison Christ followers, Jesus asked him why Saul was persecuting him. When people hurt His followers, Jesus takes it personally. They are hurting him, not just the followers. Perhaps that is why verse 19 of Romans 12 includes the words, “Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord.”
Overcoming evil with good is most important because of what happened to the unbeliever in Watchman Nee’s story. When people see the love of Christ through the actions of his offended follower, they have the opportunity to see something they never knew existed, the genuine love of Christ. The eternal soul of that unbeliever is far more important than our own desire for justice.
This is how we can overcome evil with good. When offended, we must accept the offense with the higher understanding of what is happening. Rather than our being insulted, we are gaining an opportunity to be a witness for Christ and his love to the other person. It is time we stopped being so touchy and learned to be opportunistic for the gospel.
Be an overcomer!
This Sunday we will continue our series of messages we call When God Builds a King How a lowly shepherd became a great King with a message titled Loving Our Enemies based on 2 Samuel 1:1-24. We will continue the thought of what we have shared in this blog. I hope you will be with us and bring a friend.
Overcoming with You,