The Psalmist describes vengeance. “O LORD God, to whom vengeance belongs; O God, to whom vengeance belongs, shine forth! Rise up, O Judge of the earth; Render punishment to the proud” (Psalm 94:1-2).
Paul exemplified it. He said, “Alexander the coppersmith did me much harm. May the Lord repay him according to his works” (II Timothy 4:14).
When you see a fellow believer about to fall in the trap of returning evil for evil you are to stop them. Just as you are to “warn the unruly,” “comfort the fainthearted, “uphold the weak” and “be patient with all,” you are to “see that” others don’t seek their own vengeance. You are to turn them from this destructive behavior.
Every negative has a positive and so it is with this principle. Instead of paying back evil for evil, we are to “pursue [run after] what is good.” Romans 12:18 says, “If it is possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.”
There are two motivations for pursuing “what is good.” The first is “for yourselves.” As long as you hold a grudge, as long as you are seeking revenge, you hurt yourself. Your mind is weighed down by plotting and scheming. Your emotions are plagued by unresolved anger. You are not thinking clearly and you are certainly not walking at peace with the Lord. It’s not your job to judge the sins of others, it’s God’s.
The second motivation is “for all.” That is, for the good of the whole church. If you love the church, you stand against any and everything that would harm the church, even when that harm may come from within you. To love the church is to put away retaliation and pursue good.