Doing Evil for Good

No doubt you have been disgusted and sickened to see what has gone on in cities all over the country as rioters and looters—better, anarchists & insurrectionists!—have exploited the death of George Floyd to wreak havoc and create chaos & fear.

We’ve watched…

  • Tough-guy thugs throw water bottles, bricks, and fireworks at police officers
  • Masked and hooded hoodlums shouting profanity, as if such constitutes reasoned dialogue.
  • Buildings and police cars burn
  • People of all kinds walking out of stores with their arms full of stuff they’ve pillaged—stolen!—with looks on their faces that suggest no sense of shame whatsoever…as if they had just done their Saturday morning grocery shopping.

And we’ve watched it spread.

First in Minneapolis, and in all directions from there. In Chicago, the anarchy has resulted in record-setting shootings and homicides. The lives of innocent children snuffed out but cowardly thugs driving by and opening fire.

Then I read a disturbing attempt to justify it all. Here’s what David Sirota wrote in Jacobin—an American socialist quarterly magazine from NYC:

…we have to understand that terms like ‘looting’ are an example of the way our media often imperceptibly trains us to think about economics, crime, and punishment in specific and skewed ways.” Sirota says that, “Working-class people pilfering convenience-store goods is deemed ‘looting.’ By contrast, rich folk and corporations stealing billions of dollars during their class war is considered good and necessary ‘public policy’ — aided and abetted by arsonist politicians in Washington lighting the crime scene on fire to try to cover everything up.”

Why are protesters setting fire to stores like Target and CVS?

Well, Sirota says “public companies received $1 billion meant for small businesses: recipients include 43 companies with more than 500 workers, the maximum typically allowed by the program. Several other recipients were prosperous enough to pay executives $2 million or more.”

In summary, Sirota appears to be excusing the looting on the grounds that the “investor class,” “millionaires,” “oil companies,” and “public companies,” did it first, attributing the protesters’ reactions to a fight against capitalism.

So even if Mr. Sirota’s argument were to be true—that the corporations are filthy thieves and politicians are a bunch of arsonists—does the “repaying evil with evil” approach ever really accomplish any long-term good?

Well, not according to what God has to say through the Apostle Paul.

At one point, Paul was being accused of encouraging people to carry on in sin—to do evil—because that just gives God more opportunity to be gracious to them — a “good” thing, right? His response to that accusation applies here:

And why not do evil that good may come?—as some people slanderously charge us with saying. Their condemnation is just.

Romans 3:8

In other words, Paul totally rejects the idea that anything truly good will come from doing evil. And furthermore, those who would promote such a perverted form of so-called justice would be justly condemned!

But Paul’s also more direct in prohibiting the rioters’ approach—even if they think they’re acting in behalf of people who’ve had evil done to them:

Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”

Romans 12:17–19

See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone.

1 Thessalonians 5:15

And Peter echoes this:

Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.

1 Peter 3:9

Now admittedly, Paul and Peter were writing to Christians, exhorting us in particular. But that standard of righteous behavior is not limited to followers of Jesus. It is, in fact, a guiding principle in civilized societies.

You hear it even in the maxim parents all over the world teach their children:

Two wrongs don’t make a right!

Unfortunately, such sound words fall on deaf ears of those intent on violence.

So…let’s appeal to the Father to end it.

Someone shared with me the following prayer that comes from A Book of Family Worship published in 1916 by The Presbyterian Board of Publication and Sabbath School Work. It’s a prayer offered “In Time of Insurrections and Tumults”:

O Almighty Lord God, who breaks the power of the oppressor and stills the noise and tumult of the rabble, stir up Thy great strength, we beseech Thee, and come to help us. Scatter the counsels of them that secretly devise mischief, and do Thou bring the dealings of the violent to nothing. Cast down the unjust from high places, and cause the unruly to cease from troubling. Allay all envious and malicious passions, and subdue the haters and evildoers, that our land may have rest before Thee and that all the people may praise Thee—our Help and our Shield, both now and evermore.


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