Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.
Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary:
“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.”
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
There is nothing more inherently and clearly evil than the murder of innocents. There is not sense to be made of the 27 lives lost in the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut last Friday. Still, we cannot cling to angry thoughts, pinning such a senseless act upon any one facet of our broken society. We all have bones to pick regarding school security, gun control, mental health care and more. It is easy to consider legislating ourselves out of our grief. Before we attempt this, we must first look at the a much simpler and indeed overarching law which can then become the lens through which we look at all of these issues. The Bible tells us that the way we can overcome this evil is with good.
In Matthew 22: 36-40, The Pharisees ask Jesus what the greatest commandment is.
"Jesus replied, Love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. The second is like it. Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."
A good friend reminded me that God has given us as humans free will. We can choose evil or good. In this way, we are not coerced into following Him, but instead come to him of our own volition, because we see that we need Him. When a fellow human being sinks into such darkness that defies all understanding, what can we do? We can choose good instead. If we do not have the strength, God will provide it.
We can honor the lives of the lost by extinguishing the fire of evil with the cool, clear waters of goodness. In the midst of the darkness, let the light of this truth remind us of these two greatest commandments: Love God. Love people.