“Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21). What do these words mean? It means that they do not pour fuel to the fire, that is, you cannot stop evil with evil; and that evil we get from our enemies may be stopped and overcome with good.
What are the ways for overcoming evil with good?
The first way is to do something good to your enemy. Once the robbers came to an elder and told him: “Eveything you have in your cell, we will take away”. And they took everything, having forgotten one sackcloth. The elder took this sackcloth, caught up with them and, giving it to them, said: “My children, you have forgotten this.” This act touched the robbers so much that they returned everything to the elder, repented and said: “Verily, this is a man of God”.
The second way is to humble yourself before the enemy. Two bishops quarreled. One of them was rich, and the other was poor. The rich sought the opportunity to do evil to the poor. The poor, knowing about this, said to his clergy: “We will overcome him.” The clergy replied: “Vladyka, who can stand against him?” “Wait and you will see,” the poor bishop told them. And so, when the rich bishop was accompanied by many people, the poor bishop fell at his feet with all the clergy and exclaimed: “Forgive us, vladyka, we are your servants!” Amazed by this, he himself fell at the feet of the poor bishop and said: “You are my vladyka and father!” And since that time there was great love between them.
The third way is mental self-blaming before the enemy. A monk, offended by his brother, came to him to make peace with him, but he did not accept him and did not open the doors. The rejected monk went after this to one experienced elder and told him about it. “Do you know,” the elder told him, “why the brother who offended you did not want to be reconciled with you? You, going to make peace with him, justified yourself in your soul, and mentally blamed him. I advise you to do this: although your brother has sinned against you, but you affirm in your soul the thought that you have sinned against him, and not he against you; Blame yourself, and justify him. ” The monk acted according with the advice of the elder, went to his brother, and you know what? He didn’t have time to push in the door, when he opened it immediately and met him with open arms.
The fourth way is meek correction of the enemy. There was a nobleman in Alexandria, who, despite all the admonitions of Saint John the Merciful, did not want to hear about reconciliation with his enemy. Once the saint invited him to his house church at the Divine Liturgy. The nobleman came. There were no believers in the church; the patriarch himself served, and on the choir there was only one singer, whom the nobleman began to help in singing. When they began to sing the Lord’s prayer: “Our Father,” the saint sang it too; but in words: “Give us this day our daily bread”, St. John suddenly fell silent himself and stopped the singer; so that the nobleman sang the words of prayer along: “and forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors”. Then the saint said to him: “Look, my son, what a terrible hour and what you say to God: forgive me, as I forgive! Are you telling the truth? Are you forgetting? ” These words struck the nobleman so much that he, all in tears, rushed to the feet of the archpastor and exclaimed: “Everything that you command, vladyka, your servant will do.” And he did: on the same day he reconciled with his enemy and forgave him all his insults from the bottom of his heart.
Finally, the fifth way is patience. A monk lived in a monastery, and here five brothers loved him, and one insulted him. The monk could not stand the insults and left, thinking to find peace, at another monastery. There eight brothers began to love him, and two hated him. He ran to the third one. Here, seven loved him, and five hated him. What shall I do? “I’ll go,” said the monk, “somewhere else, where I will feel better”. And he went to the fourth monastery. On the way to this one, having sat down to rest, the monk was thinking: “What will come of it,” he said to himself, “if I run from place to place? After all, then in the whole world I will not find peace for myself. I’d better be patient”. And with these words he took the charter and wrote: “I will endure everything for the sake of Jesus Christ, the Son of God!” Having tied this writing to his belt, he came to a new monastery and stayed there to live. As in the past, this happened as well: after a very short time they again started to offend him. But he was no longer discouraged. As soon as he received an insult from anyone, he immediately read his writing and calmed down. In the end, his patience completely triumphed. The offenders asked him for forgiveness and stopped offending him.
We gave enough of the ways to you, brethren, to overcome the enemies, if you have any. What do these ways show? What do they teach? They show and teach that evil, as we said at the beginning of the word, is overcome not by evil, but good, not by hatred, but love. The same is taught by the holy fathers. Hierarch Dimitri of Rostov says: “If you have any enemy who is angry with you unfairly, you, loving him and doing good to him, turn him slowly from enemy into friend, from angry to loving”. There is nothing to add to this, for you yourself know that the word of God teaches the same. It remains only to ask the Lord that He, by His omnipotent grace, would remove anger and malice from our hearts and set our hearts in such a way that we always live in peace and never have to make peace with anyone. Amen.