21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
This verse is an exhortation on how to overcome the temptation to personally retaliate against our enemies.
21 Do not be overcome by evil,
“Evil” here is what an enemy might do to us. The Christian cannot allow evil to vanquish him from living a godly life. We will be overcome by evil if we allow bitterness to settle in our attitude. It will become like an implacable plaster cast on our soul. On the contrary, we are to be instruments that resolve conflict and do not enflame the situation.
but overcome evil with good.
True victory over evil transforms a hostile relationship into amity. We do not overcome evil with evil, but we defeat evil by exercising some benefit upon our enemy. For the believer to lower himself to the evil of those doing him harm is to deny the dynamics of biblical living. The well-doing of the Christian is the issue here rather than the ill-doing of his antagonist.
Love lifts the believer above vengeance.
Responding to evil with evil only exacerbates the problem; it increases the momentum of retaliation. It is easy to fan the flames of retaliation. If we do this, it will subdue the grace that should be in our hearts. Love lifts the believer above vindictiveness and does something to resolve the trouble.