When Chris Carrier was 10 years old, a stranger approached him, professing to be a friend of the boy’s father. He needed Chris’s help in picking out a Christmas present for his dad. So Chris climbed into the man’s motorhome.
A short time later the man pulled the vehicle into a field and stabbed Chris in the back of the neck. He then drove the vehicle, with the wounded boy inside, down a dirt road. He shot the boy in the left temple and dumped him by the side of the road in the alligator-infested Florida Everglades.
For six days, Chris lay there, in and out of consciousness, until he was found by a passing motorist. Miraculously, he survived his injuries but lost the ability to see out of his left eye. The police were never able to identify or find the attacker.
Chris lived in fear for the next three years until, at a church event, he heard the gospel and gave his life to Christ. He grew in his faith and decided to go into full-time ministry to help others find the peace and healing he had found in Jesus.
Many years later – Chris was now married with a family when a detective contacted him, saying an elderly man had confessed to the brutal crime. The man had a grudge against Chris’s father and took out his anger against Chris as a way of hurting the boy’s father.
Chris visited the 70-year-old man, who was now broken and weak, in a nursing home. At first the man denied knowing anything about the crime, but eventually he apologized to Chris. Chris explained how he had become a Christian and how God had used that terrible event in his life to share God’s forgiveness and love with many other people.
Chris’s family began making almost daily visits to the nursing home, sharing the love of God with the man. And one Sunday afternoon, Chris’s attacker received both God’s and Chris’s forgiveness and placed his faith in Christ. A few days later he died peacefully in his sleep.
That is a powerful example of how one man overcame the evil around him. First, Chris allowed Christ to remove the notion of revenge from his heart. Then he overpowered the evil in his assailant’s life by an outpouring of God’s love.
The Bible gives clear direction on how we can do this, beginning with the central New Testament passage of Romans 12:17–21:
“Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.
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.”
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
Here’s some of the best advice I ever received about responding to evil: when someone strikes out at you to hurt you with an evil act or accusation, don’t curse it; don’t rehearse it; don’t nurse it – but do reverse it.
Jesus talked about reversing the impact of evil: “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also” (Matthew 5:38–40).
Someone has wisely said, “The enemy has overcome us when he makes us like himself.” To repay evil for evil is to become like Satan. To adopt the methods of your enemy is to become an enemy yourself.
But to repay good for evil is to become like God.
The essential victory over evil is the work of love. Jesus said, “Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you” (Matthew 5:44).
Love. Bless. Do good. Pray. That is how you overcome evil – with good.
This is no imaginary victory. It’s the most revolutionary force in the world. Imagine what our world would be like if we employed this force every day.
That is the Christian way. It is unique in a world of vengeance and retaliation.
This is an adaptation from Dr. Jeremiah’s new book, “Overcomer.” It releases October 2.