It feels like the world is getting more evil. I need both hands (and possibly my feet) to count how many people in the past week have said it feels like evil is winning. So I figure this is the perfect time to write about evil—you know, at the most wonderful time of the year when everything is supposed to be joyful and lovely and merry and bright.
But evil is on the minds of many near me. I live about 20 minutes away from where a man drove his SUV into people participating in a Christmas parade. Six people died, and at least another 60 or more were injured. I know someone who held injured children while waiting for first responders to come. Now parents sit by their children’s hospital beds praying for miracles and knowing their lives as they knew it were changed by one person’s evil decision.
So I agree with those who feel the world is getting more evil. My logical mind, however, often reminds me that horrendous evil has happened in every generation.
Except. We know evil will increase. Why? Because Jesus said so. He was talking to his disciples and let them know that at the end of the age, “because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold” (Matthew 24:12). While I love the majority of Jesus’ promises that will come true, add this to the list of “Promises of Jesus that I don’t love.”
So while wickedness increases and love decreases, do you know what I’m doing? I’m being stubborn and fighting back. I’ve decided that I refuse to be one of the “most.” Because I believe in Jesus, because I am a baptized child of God and have the Holy Spirit living inside of me, I am one of the “few.” I am a difference maker. While I can’t change other people’s actions; I am in control of my own.
About 50 years after Jesus was born, wickedness was also increasing, and a wave of persecution was taking place against people who believed in Jesus. An encourager named Paul wrote to those believers and shared all the ways they could be different by telling them “don’t.” These three don’ts work for us too.
Don’t even think about it: “Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh” (Romans 13:14). Oh, trust me, while I am getting better-ish at keeping my mouth shut and my actions kind, my mind still jumps to all the ways I’d like to respond when people push my buttons. But this tells me not to even think about it. The more I entertain the thoughts, the more likely I am to give in to them.
Don’t conform: “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:2). When I renew my mind, I don’t give in to evil. I don’t conform to the pattern of love growing cold. Instead, the people around me can notice that something is different about me—and then I can tell them about Jesus!
Don’t be overcome: “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21). If you are the victim of evil, you will need to grieve for a while. If you see evil taking place close to you, you will lament for a while. But don’t be overcome. Find ways to do good, to be a blessing, to support those who are hurt. Offer your time, your love, your money, your talents to those around you who need it.
I’d love for you to fight back with me and just don’t. Instead, “May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else” (1 Thessalonians 3:12).
Linda Buxa is a writer and editor who thinks the people close to her aren’t surprised by the admission that she’s stubborn.