"Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." Romans 12:21 NIV
In Paul's day, the early church faced imprisonment, torture, and persecution. Thankfully, most of us have not encountered that kind of evil personally. We are blessed to live in a country that offers religious and personal freedom. We may not experience the same type of evil as the early church and other countries today; we do come into contact daily with misguided, self-centered, uncaring, and rude folks. Most are even pretty good people, who may just be having a bad day. Think of that person who cuts you off on the highway or steals the parking space you've been waiting for. While not evil, we sadly conduct ourselves in ways counter to God's desires for us.
Turning to today's scripture, the fact that we do not face what we commonly think of evil is no reason to discount the advice that Paul is giving. Whenever we encounter situations where the person is not acting Christlike, we need to respond with Christ's love. As Paul quotes from Proverbs 25:22, "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head." How are people to see the difference Christ has made in our lives if we respond in retaliation instead of responding with love and kindness? When that person cuts you off or steals your parking place, give them a smile and wave, instead of our human inclinations to honk and give them the "salute."
God, we give you thanks for your compassion and love for us despite all our flaws and imperfections. When faced with the selfishness and rudeness of others, our natural inclination is to respond in kind. When we answer that way, we fail to demonstrate your love to others. Forgive us, we pray, and help us this day to respond to all situations showing your love. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.