We are called to fight the evil that runs rampant in our world.
Television news updates us on the latest terroristic threat, latest viral disease, latest murder. Through a camera lens, we watch bad things happen—riots, road rage, rumblings of war. We want to lock ourselves in the safety of our homes. And even there, trouble may intrude through forced entry or the Internet. What can we do?
Newspapers and news magazines often focus on what’s wrong with the world rather than on what’s right; they focus on the faults of criminals rather than the faith of victims. Martyrs who refuse to deny Christ offer examples of dying for your faith. But we can also live for our faith.
Here are five sermon illustrations to suggest ways to combat evil in the world:
Scatter good seed
The worst conditions bring out the best in us. Like candles in caverns, the love of Christians shines in dark places. While nursing British soldiers during the Crimean War, Florence Nightingale became known as the “Lady with the Lamp” because she checked on patients by lantern light. And she changed the face of nursing by showing the importance of sanitation. Like Florence Nightingale, we can shine where God has placed us as we stand up for what is right and point out what is wrong. We can touch society by adopting unwanted children and visiting the sick and imprisoned. We can fill our days and fulfill our mission in life by making the world a better, more blessed place. Good deeds by good seeds choke bad weeds.
A caller told a woman he needed to access her computer in order to prevent it from crashing. She became suspicious when he asked her to “run” a program, so she hung up and called her computer technician. The technician assured the woman that the man was a scammer, trying to gain access to her personal information. When the woman told her son about the experience he suggested she stop answering telephone calls from unfamiliar numbers, so she did. Smooth talkers can worm their way into our lives. Block their entrance.
Google “seven deadly sins” and you’ll find society views them as pride, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, wrath and sloth. As we grow in Christlikeness, we try to weed such sins from our lives. However, if we fail to recognize such sins, they may intensify. For instance, we may feel we’ve earned the right to eat what we like, drink what we want and have fun before we die, so we spend our time and money on pleasure rather than on sharing with others who struggle to survive. We envy those who enjoy second vacation homes rather than being content with what we have. Sin can be subtle. But we win over sin when we see it and flee it.
Seek the Savior
Christians love quoting Romans 8:28, which tells us God uses all things to work for good in a Christian’s life. But the next verse explains the greatest good: “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son . . . .” (Romans 8:29 NIV) No matter what happens to us in life—the good, the bad, the hurtful—God can use our experiences make us more Christ like. No matter how evil and suffering originates—from our own waywardness, from a fallen world of germs, accidents and broken relationships, from Satan (as in the case of biblical Job)—God’s ways are higher than our ways. The very problems we seek to avoid can draw us closer to God and to each other. So ask not why you suffer; ask how you might grow through suffering.
Say the right words
The juice of a blueberry once popped out of a woman’s mouth as she ate stuffed French toast. It stained her off-white slacks and required a lot of rubbing and scrubbing to remove the stain. So wrong words, hurtful words, bad words can pop out of our mouths and require a lot of apologizing to remove the stain they leave on relationships. “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” (Ephesians 4:29 NIV) Your words show the world who you are. Let’s make them count for God and for good instead of evil.
Life lacks perfection, but life will be better if we all do our part to fight evil. A former pastor of mine used to say “Good people given enough time will do the right thing.” We all want to be those kind of people. Yes, it takes time and effort. Yes, it requires thought and awareness in the moment. But the rewards are great. Let’s step up to the plate and do the right thing. Others will surely join us, and together we’ll make the world a better place as we fight evil, one round at a time.
Florence Nightingale: Shirley Brosius, Sisterhood of Faith, Howard Books, New York, 2006, page 243.
Shirley Brosius is an author and part of a women’s ministry speaking team called Friends of the Heart. She wroteSisterhood of Faith and coauthored Turning Guilt Trips into Joy Rides; both are devotional books. Shirley offers dramatic presentations of lengthy passages of scripture, such as the book of Ruth, from memory. Visit her website for more information or to buy her books: www.friendsoftheheart.us.
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