Abundant Living Vol. XX, Issue 1

“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”  – Romans 12:21 

When I was in high school there was this character in our school named Jim.  I suspect I may have mentioned him before in these writings.  Jim was perpetually getting in trouble, one of those people who spent more time in the principal’s office than the classroom.  But unlike the class clown whose mischief made everyone laugh, Jim’s antics were not especially humorous, just disruptive.  He had few friends and was a bit of a loner, yet quite intelligent, if only he had channeled his intellect toward academics or other constructive activities instead of mischief.  I knew little about him or his family to dare speculate whether his behavior was environmental, emotional, or due to some sort of medical or mental condition.  All I know is Jim was always causing trouble.

There are two kinds of people, a wise friend of mine once observed, those who create problems, and those who solve them.  I think he was referring to the contrast between people like Jim – admittedly an extreme example – versus those who, in keeping with the high school theme, played by the rules, were captains of the sports teams, student body and class presidents, studied hard to prepare for college, cheerleaders, members of the marching band, held jobs after school and over summer break, or otherwise participants in constructive activities and leaders in one way or another.

There may indeed be two kinds of people, as my friend suggested, but I think he would also agree that no one is a hundred percent one or the other, as most of us tend to be little bit of both.  Who among us has not created a few problems along the way, even as we may have endeavored to be problem solvers?  And as for Jim, the consummate troublemaker, while I don’t know what became of him, he surely had some good qualities as well that hopefully emerged after growing out of adolescence.

As we embark on this new year I am thinking that rather than attempting more sure-to-fail resolutions, perhaps I might instead focus on moving the needle more in the direction of solving problems versus creating them.  The Apostle Paul says, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”  I think he is right, for good people doing good deeds are the only ones who can right this crazy world when it gets out of whack, and the only ones who can sustain it for a brighter future – always have been.  Happy New Year!

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