Repaying Evil

Scott Young | February 13, 2018

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1 Peter 3:9

Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.

—1 Peter 3:9

“In the midst of war, evil abounds,” writes Richard Stearns, president of World Vision U.S., in his book The Hole in Our Gospel.  As part of a story called A Smile Without Lips, Stearns tells of a woman named Margaret. Margaret was a victim of Northern Uganda’s war against the Lord’s Resistance Army.

One day Margaret, who was pregnant, was working in her garden with several other women when a group of LRA child soldiers attacked them. Margaret’s friends were hacked to death with machetes in front of her. The commander noticed Margaret was pregnant so he instructed the soldiers not to kill her. Instead, he instructed them to cut off her ears, nose, and lips and leave her to die.

Margaret did not die. She was found and rushed to a hospital. A few months later, she gave birth to a son and named him James. Margaret and her son were brought to World Vision’s Children of War Center. There, Margaret received trauma counseling, support, and was taught skills to work as a seamstress.

“What happened next can only be understood through the miracle of God’s love—a demonstration of the incredible power of the gospel to redeem in the darkest kinds of evil,” writes Stearns.

The man who had given the orders to attack Margaret had been captured and sent for counseling at the center. When Margaret saw him she told one of her counselors that she had to leave because she wanted to kill him. The man was moved to another center. After weeks of counseling, he admitted to committing the atrocities.

Eventually, the man accepted Christ and sent word that he was asking Margaret to forgive him. A meeting was arranged and Margaret, through the power of the love of Christ, forgave him.

Today, on the wall of the Children of War Center, hangs a photograph of the man holding James and standing next to Margaret, who is smiling without lips.

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.

—Romans 12:14–17a

If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them. Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying ‘I repent,’ you must forgive them.

—Luke 17:3-6b

Questions for reflection and discussion: What makes it hard for you to forgive someone? How can we overcome our fears and forgive?

The devotionals this week were written by Scott Young. Scott is involved in WBC’s local outreach ministries. He and his wife, Nancy, have been members of WBC for more than 30 years.

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