One of the earliest verses my firstborn and I memorized together was Romans 12:21 which says, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Over and over again we’d quote it when someone did wrong.  When a child dumped sand on my son’s head at the park, I’d remind my three year old, “What are we to do when someone does evil toward us?” His sweet brown eyes would soften as his high-pitched toddler voice sang out, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

Here at The MOB Society this month we are reading through the book of Judges and finding new ways to apply God’s Word to our lives. Today we’re looking at chapter 16, where Samson takes revenge upon the Philistines, not for righteous reasons this time, but out of pure, evil spite.

Samson had been wronged by his father-in-law who was a Philistine. In return, Samson burned down the wheat harvest.  To get back at him, the Philistines killed Samson’s father-in-law along with their entire family, then they marched into the land of Judah to hunt down Samson…

Where does revenge stop?

Years have passed since my toddler memorized that verse, but it’s gotten harder to practice.  He has a couple of little brothers now.  Recently, the boys were trying to outdo one another with angry words and evil looks, nasty name calling and muscular punches.  It was the end of Christmas break and the boys were ready for routine to give order to our days.

Even as we took down the twinkling Christmas lights and played the last few Christmas carols, a spirit of evil was rising amongst my sons. It all started when one of them did something mildly annoying. A brother pushed back with an elbow, causing the first to scream. My third son then joined the fray, offended by the noise and hollered for his brothers to “Shut Up!!!” Suddenly a mole hill transformed into a mountain.

I came into the room, tangled in tinsel, and sent them each to their corners. ding ding ding. I was going to end this match before it hit round two.

As they cooled off I went to the dry erase board in our kitchen nook and picked up a marker, then I wrote these words in thick bold strokes:

Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else. (Thessalonians 5:15)

A few minutes later all three boys were seated round the table, with angry eyes and feet moving just a smudge too close to one another, ready to go at it again. My oldest read the verse above, then his middle brother took a turn, followed by the six year old. After that I asked them which verse it reminded them of and they all said Romans 12:21. It was hidden in their memories… but hadn’t made it’s way quite to their hearts perhaps.

So I took my fat black marker and made the smallest bump, like a little hill or a “mole hill” below the verse.

“This is how small a little offense can be. A joking insult. A lightsaber fight where someone gets hurt by accident. A heart unwilling to share or include.”

I drew another hill, slightly bigger this time, on top of the first.  “Then guess what happens?  The brother who’d been wronged does evil back…this time it’s a little meaner, a bit nastier… What do you think has to happen next?” I asked simply.

“We find a way to be louder and stronger and hurt the other person more.”

“That’s right” I exclaimed, as I drew a bigger hill over the first two.

My six year old caught on at this point and yelled, “So I came in and shouted SHUT UP!”

I nodded, “Yep, you made a big mountain. And it was ugly and hurtful and I won’t have it in this house. Do you understand?”

He did.

They all did.

And I did too.

Because sometimes I join in the tussle and start paying back evil for evil.

Moms, don’t join the fight. Let’s teach our sons how to overcome evil with our good.

Samson was strong. So are these boys!  Teach them these verses, draw for them this visual, and model goodness yourself.

“Dear Lord, Give us wisdom to see what’s happening when our sons are angry, help us to not march in with our own angry discipline, but slow down to teach them.  Help us to be patient and wise, so that we can overcome their evil with our good – Your good, shining through us each mothering day. Amen.”

Do you ever catch yourself joining in the fight?
Tell me of a time you were able to remain gentle,
and overcome their evil with your good,
or perhaps a time when you dearly wish you had.