**This is a bulleted and shortened fictitious letter I wrote for my M.A. in Biblical Counseling program to someone who has been unjustly wronged by another (this is specifically speaking about a believer unjustly wronged by a non-believer) based on the book How to Overcome Evil by Jay Adams. If you are struggling with anything similar, might you find encouragement in these truths. It’s a touch longer than my normal posts–but there was too much to shorten–feel free to skim the bolded lines!;)
- Romans 12:14-21 speaks incredibly well to your situation. We should first identify the goal in all of this, as you strive to follow Paul’s instruction in these verses. Beginning in chapter 12, Paul calls his readers, “by the mercies of God to present your bodies as a living and holy sacrifice.” Honoring the Lord in a difficult situation, especially when a person is unfair or unjust towards you, by following the forthcoming commands, is one way in which one presents his body as a living and holy sacrifice in worship and service to Jesus Christ. It is not glamorous, but it is essential if you seek to honor the Lord in all you do.
- But first, I’d like to be blatantly honest with you, friend: you are in an outright war. In fact, Peter tells us to “not be surprised by the fiery ordeal among you…as though some strange thing were happening to you.” All believers are in a war with the enemy, and he will do whatever he can to derail you, harm you, and discourage you as you seek to serve Jesus Christ and His kingdom, because, his ultimate goal is to foil God’s plans and purposes. I urge you to approach this situation with that mindset. This too, is motivated by the evil one; “He wants to defeat you and bring disgrace on God’s name and to weaken His cause.” Be careful not to take this personally (as in personally against your personality or your looks or your intelligence, etc.), but to see it as a battle in a much larger war, in which you are a member of the army that fights against the enemy, and he merely seeks to use you as his pawn—don’t let him. We know in the end Who will have the ultimate victory. In God’s army, you are a victor, and you must act like one.
- On that note, Romans 12:21 is key to this discussion: “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” This should be your aim in all of your interactions with _____, and with any others involved in the situation—to overcome the evil with good. Jesus’ life is a wonderful example of this truth: His life, His light exposed sin, it angered the darkness. The darkness attempted to put out the light but failed. Light always overcomes darkness, always John 1:5. Might I note that the command to overcome evil with good is not a passive statement, but an aggressive statement. You are not asked to sit idly by with no response to the evil, you are to do something about it—to overcome it with good. This point too is powerfully exemplified by Christ’s life. Christ came to destroy evil, to thwart the ultimate result of sin, and He did something about it: “He laid down His life; it was not taken from Him. The cross was active.” (2 Corinthians 10:4, Revelation 19:15.)
- In verse 14 of Romans 12, you are commanded to “bless those who persecute you.” This too is an active statement—to bless. I encourage you to bless _____ with your words, and begin to actively pray for her blessing—you will develop a compassion for _______ you have never known. She should be your focus rather than yourself. Your thoughts should be directed, not to how badly she is hurting you, but how you can bless her, how you can help her. Here are a couple practical points to help you with ______: 1) If you cursed her, seek forgiveness from her and from God, 2) If your focus has been on yourself, rather than her, ask for God’s forgiveness and begin to think about what her needs are, 3) Ask God to save her and help her—pray specifically for her welfare, 4) Think of kindly, good, helpful words that you can speak to her now, and on later occasions (69-70). (1 Peter 4:19, Romans 2:4, 1 Corinthians 13:5, Proverbs 26:4-5, 1 Corinthians 4:12, 13, Luke 23:34, Acts 7:60, 1 Peter 2:21- 23.)
- On a side note, at a later date, when time allows, you might explore verse 15-16 of Romans 12. It speaks to the necessity of believers being united in this battle we are speaking of. Jay Adams eloquently notes the danger of not adhering to this command of unity, “Wounded by one another, weak and discouraged by battles, among themselves, the soldiers of Christ grimly limp forth against the enemy.” I would encourage you to not allow the pain and frustration of this situation to negatively affect the relationships in your lives, especially with believers.
- Verse 17 makes how you are to act exceptionally clear: “Never pay back evil for evil to anyone.” That means never. No matter what ______ does, if you are to honor Christ in this situation, which I know is your heart’s cry, your command is clear: never return her evil with your evil—there is not one situation that does not fall under this command. Instead, you are to pay her evil back with your abundant love. On that note, I encourage you to sit down and plan exactly what you will say or do when she acts sinfully. Plan now for situations you will likely meet, and your God-honoring responses so you will be prepared and not caught off guard in this battle.
- Verse 18 makes yet another command clear: your goal is peace, as far is it depends on you. Because ______ is not a believer, true peace will not be attainable (that is another you reason you should pray for her), but for all other intensive purposes, per your actions and words, strive for a peaceful relationship with her if at all possible. Do not provoke her or make the peace more difficult to attain. In fact, you can strive for peace and do good to her even when she doesn’t because your actions are not dependent on hers—you serve Jesus Christ alone. Do good to her. Do the opposite of what your flesh longs to do. Heap goodness and love on her (this is what it means to heap burning coals on her head) verse 20.
- In closing, I leave you with yet another command form verse 19, but more than a command, it should provide great peace, and I urge you to rest in it: “Never take your own revenge, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord.” (Romans 12:19)
Thank you for reading! Blessings!