This Sunday was the sixth sermon in our Lenten series, Peeled, a series about the fruits of the Spirit. In this series, we have been talking about the fruits of the Spirit of joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control to see how these qualities, through the Holy Spirit, can help us become more deeply devoted disciples of Jesus Christ. This Sunday we talked about the fruit of the Spirit of goodness.
How do we, as Christians, respond to evil in the world? One option is to respond to evil with evil- fight fire with fire. The issue with responding to evil with evil though is that it just creates more evil and harm in our world. Another option is to ignore the evil. The issue with ignoring evil though is the evil will continue. Furthermore, when we ignore evil, it can mean we “passively accept” it, as Martin Luther King, Jr. states. The third option is to respond to evil with goodness. Goodness is the quality of doing good, what is morally right and kind to others. Goodness is a fruit of the Spirit, which means that it comes from God, and it is something we have access to right now through the Holy Spirit.
In Romans 12:9-21, Paul says to hate what is evil and cling to what is good. He tells the Roman church to not get revenge on anyone and to bless those who curse us. He invites people to rather than exact revenge, feed our enemy when they are hungry and give them a drink when they are thirsty. Doing good to our enemies will “heap burning coals” on their head, Paul writes. Scholars believe this phrase means that doing good to them will cause them to repent and change their ways. Paul writes, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Responding to evil with good can stop evil from continuing or getting worse. Responding to evil with good can even cause people to turn from their sinful ways and choose to do good too.
As Christians, what are we doing to respond to evil? If we hate what is evil, we need to do something about it. Wesley had three simple rules that he lived by that relate to goodness: 1) Do no harm. 2) Do good. 3) Stay in love with God. Through the Holy Spirit, we can overcome evil with good. As Martin Luther King Jr. articulates, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.” And evil cannot drive out evil, only good can do that.”
Monday- Romans 12:9-21
Tuesday- Luke 6:27-36
Wednesday- Galatians 6:1-10
Thursday- Matthew 12:33-37
Friday- Psalm 31:1-24
Questions to Consider and Discuss:
When have you responded to evil with evil (sin)? Ignoring it? Doing good?
What are we doing to respond to evil in our world?
How can we cultivate the fruit of the Spirit of goodness?