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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Monday, July 31, 2017

Today’s Scripture Reading | Romans 12:9–21

Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor. Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are. Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God; for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” No, “if your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (NRSV)

A common theme in the New Testament is to love one’s enemies. Jesus shows this example again and again when he preaches, when he is questioned, and when he is ultimately persecuted on the cross.

That’s a pretty big example for us to follow. 

But sadly, thousands of years later, we are still trying to follow that example. We repeat those words so easily to our children, our friends, and even remind ourselves when we feel hatred pushing toward us.

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. As much as humanity has verbally repeated Paul’s message from today’s scripture, it’s a very different story when it’s attempted in action. You can think of times when you’ve attempted to overcome, with kindness and generosity, those who persecuted you. But take a step back and think of how humanity responds when faced with hatred. Too often, we have quickly turned to war, oppression, and an even greater hatred of those who initially projected hate toward others.

Today’s scripture from Romans reminds us that our actions must follow our words with the deepest sincerity. We must be careful to not let evil consume us, but instead humble ourselves in a space of hospitality and peace.

Humble leaders throughout history continue to echo this message, and we should be mindful of their loving fight for justice. In the words of Martin Luther King Jr., “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

God of love and humility, instill in us a sense of perpetual peace. Let us foster community and overpower with genuine and sincere love any hate we encounter. Amen.

Written by Jackie Lorens Harris, Director,
Chicago Lights Elam Davies Social Service Center

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