CLCSB 2022 Fasting & Prayer Devotion
Day 7: Overcome Evil with Good
Congratulations! You’ve made it to the final day of our time of fasting and prayer. It has truly been a delight to share these devotions with you based on a very powerful chapter in the Bible, Romans 12. Hopefully, this time of consecration has been edifying to your soul and spirit.
Before we dive into this final devotion, here’s a quick reminder of what fasting is all about:
We typically hear people making mention of fasting to receive certain breakthroughs in their lives, such as healing, deliverance, new jobs, new homes, conflict resolution and so forth. These are all legitimate reasons to fast.
However, the primary purpose of fasting is simply to “crucify” our own flesh. Fasting humbles us like nothing else can. It quickly reminds us of how much we need God for everything. It eliminates distractions and things that we’ve become too dependent on for our comfort (idols) and clears a pathway to a closer relationship with the Lord.
Fasting can serve many other purposes. But the taming of our flesh and our carnal nature with its selfish desires is one of the most important reasons for fasting. If you haven’t already, take some time now to focus on areas of your life that need to come into submission to God’s will. Ask the Lord to bring transformation and a renewed mind to these places in your life.
You may even want to revisit some of our previous devotions or other supplemental material that you may have been using to help you once this time of fasting is completed. We will also provide additional devotional material to help you to make this a year of phenomenal transformation for your life.
As we turn our attention to this final devotion, we come to what is by far the longest passage from Romans 12 that we’ve shared. In Romans 12:14-21, Paul concludes this chapter with a powerful message on loving our enemies and overcoming evil with good.
This is one of the most challenging aspects of our Christian faith. When we read about the heroes of faith in the Bible, we come across valiant warriors who courageously stood for God, both in the Old and New Testaments. Their stories serve as examples of the type of faithful soldiers we should be for Christ today, even in the face of opposition.
Using terms like “soldier” and “warrior” instantly makes us think about aggressively fighting battles and vanquishing our enemies. But the Apostle Paul shines the light on a new and living way. He points us to a revolutionary new way of entreating our enemies. This method of confrontation is one that Jesus Christ ushered into existence through His teaching and through His life. He taught us to love our enemies and to bless those that curse us.
In these next few verses found in Romans 12:14-21, Paul reminds us of this new mindset that we as believers in Christ have now been commissioned to live out. We have been set apart to win the world to Christ through the power of God’s love. Here’s how the passage reads in the New King James Version:
14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. 16 Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion. 17 Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. 18 If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. 19 Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 Therefore “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
We would all be hard-pressed to find another area of our lives that requires more transformation and mind renewal than this. Our human nature is highly prone to retaliation when we feel attacked, offended, or opposed. Many times, just the slightest thought of someone being against us makes us ready to pounce.
While this tends to be the natural course for our human nature, having Christ in our hearts demands that we think with new nature and present a different response. But we should not confuse this with being impervious to feeling hurt or angry.
The Bible never tells us not to feel pain or anger. In fact, Ephesians 4:26 says to be angry, yet not to sin. Our Christian response to opposition is not for us to be emotionally dead but to be infused with the nature of Christ that we might offer a response that changes the hearts of those that oppose us.
The proper response may not come in the heat of the moment. We may need time to think and pray before giving an appropriate reply. Sometimes we may even give the wrong reaction before having time to settle ourselves. In such cases, the battle is not lost.
With a transformed heart and a renewed mind shaped by humility and servitude, we can find courage to admit our wrong. These opportunities of reconciliation can be surprisingly effective at winning enemies to become friends and winning the lost to Christ.
But Paul’s message isn’t solely fixed on loving our enemies. He also gives us encouragement to love other believers. He first urges us to rejoice with those that rejoice and to weep with those that weep. At first glance, this might seem like a command that we can fulfill quite naturally.
However, there are many times when someone has great news and we give a bit of an eye roll thinking, “Why do things always go right for them and everything in my world seems to go so wrong?” Or, someone may have terrible news and we give…well…a bit of an eye roll thinking, “Why do I have to deal with this today when everything is going so well?”
Bringing ourselves to the same mind as others can be more difficult than we think. Yet it becomes a wonderful demonstration of God’s love when we can leave the comfort of our present thinking to console someone in their sorrow. It can also be equally as Christlike to step out of our misery to rejoice with people in their celebration.
Whether we’re dealing with enemies or fellow believers, Paul sternly but lovingly pushes us toward doing all we can to get along peaceably with everyone. And even when we have been clearly wronged, Paul admonishes us not to seek vengeance against those who offend us but to leave them in the hands of the Lord. In the meanwhile, we are instructed to tend to their needs with a heart of forgiveness and reconciliation.
When we do this, we reveal the heart of God to people who may not even believe that God exists. Responding with love and forgiveness to an offense shows people that there is something clearly different about us. It shows people that there is a better way to live than just according to the selfishness of our carnal nature. If given the time and the chance, they may linger long enough to realize that the difference is God’s love.
This is how we vanquish our enemies. We don’t condemn them with anger. We don’t destroy them with hatred. We win them to our side with love. We recognize that there is only one true enemy, Satan. He is the one that desires to keep us divided and to keep lost souls blinded by darkness. God’s love shines light for people to see His goodness (Matthew 5:16). And we are responsible for displaying His light to the world.
In Matthew 10:36, when Jesus says that a man’s enemies would be those of his own household, He was not referring to people that we are permitted to hate, ignore, cast off, or reject. He was simply referring to people on the opposing side of what we believe. His commission to us as believers is to stand strong in faith that we might win them to His Kingdom through the preaching of the Gospel.
This Gospel is not a message of how much we as Christians hate those who oppose us. It is a message of how much God loves all of us and desires everyone to be saved. As we embrace this Gospel message, we embrace the love that comes with it. It ultimately becomes the heart with which we preach and provides the message that changes lives.
As we close this devotion and conclude our time of fasting and prayer, may God continue to transform our lives and renew our minds to remember that God so loved the world that He gave His Son, Jesus, to die for all our sins. May we remember to work together in unity with fellow believers, even though they may have different gifts, personalities, preferences, and priorities.
May we remember to hate what is evil and cleave to what is good; to rejoice with those that rejoice and weep with those that weep. May we endeavor to live peaceably with all people. May we have courage to bless those that curse us and overcome evil with good.
May the light of Jesus Christ in us shine brightly for all the world to see the goodness of God, that it may glorify Him before everyone. And may those who see it be drawn by His Spirit to receive new life in Christ.
And now may the Lord bless you and keep you, may He make His face to shine upon you and be gracious to you. May He lift up His countenance upon you and give you His peace, in Jesus’ name, Amen!
Day 7 Fasting Item: Spending Money
Daily Bible Reading: Romans 6:6 For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin—
Like Christ, we also experienced a crucifixion. Our “old self,” the one that existed in sin and self-reliance before we were in Christ, was spiritually crucified in the same way that Christ was physically crucified on the cross. In response to our faith, God mysteriously, powerfully put to death our old self that was under the rule and power of sin. We were slaves to sin, and we have now been freed from its power and authority in our lives. Write your reflections.