There’s something darkly appealing about seeing someone beat by their own underhanded tactics. We definitely like it in fiction; when the bad guy gets his just desserts, we cheer for the hero.

Do not be overcome by evil but overcome evil with good.

Romans 12:21

The Christian way may not satisfy that same unkind urge but it is important for our way of life. It is not merely instruction for better individual conduct but also, more importantly, conduct fitting one of Christ’s followers.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may prove yourselves to be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Even the tax collectors, do they not do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Even the Gentiles, do they not do the same? Therefore you shall be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Matthew 5:43-48

It’s not obvious in English, but in the Greek text Matthew records that Jesus used a special pronoun when he said “you shall be perfect”. The subject of the sentence could have been implied but Jesus verbally underlined the word to say this is about all of you.

Choosing to disobey and take your own revenge instead of doing good for your neighbor brings that reputation back to the Church. If we want to be perfect–complete or mature–we need to conduct ourselves as Jesus did.

Overcome evil with good.

Ethan Kirl