The Ends and the Means

Sara Leo

READ : Romans 12:17-21

Do not repay anyone evil for evil. (v. 17 NIV)

American popular culture is filled with stories of revenge. We see and hear messages
that affirm our desire to repay evil with evil. In the television show 24, Jack Bauer, a
government counterterrorism agent, has 24 hours to prevent catastrophe. To do this he
employs whatever tactics necessary, including violence, blackmail, and often torture. Jack
Bauer and his no-holds-barred style reflects more about United States foreign policy than
we might care to admit. Bauer’s consistent defense of his actions is that he does what
“needs to be done.” This mentality (that the ends justify the means, even when those means
include torture and murder) permeates both reality and fiction in our country today.

But God has a different message. God says to leave the revenge to him. We are to turn
the other cheek. We are to live at peace. Justice in God’s eyes is to repay evil not with
guns and bombs, but with grace and mercy. When it comes to revenge, it is easy to get
caught up in the idea that we are doing only what “needs to be done.” Perhaps we don’t
trust God to bring about peace, and we feel we must take the matter into our own hands.
But God never says anything about the ends justifying the means. We are not to be overcome
by evil. We are to overcome evil with good.


Lord, help us not to be overcome by evil. Teach us to practice peace.