No one will ever know exactly why Kevin Ward, Jr. thought it was ok to get out of the safety of his car. As he chased down Tony Stewart’s speeding car, we can only assume that one thought was in his mind – “even the score.” After all, growing up, he watched role models like Stewart chase after people when they wronged him! When someone makes you mad, you get even…right?
You see, moments earlier, Stewart had bumped Ward into the wall and Ward spun out of the race. Unfortunately, Kevin Ward did not stay in his car, he didn’t calm down, and he didn’t forgive. Instead, he got out of his car and ran toward Stewart’s vehicle yelling. As Ward ran to confront Stewart, Stewart’s tires swung out, Ward was pulled under the car, run over, and killed.
The Wards are in our prayers, and we grieve their loss. By all accounts, Kevin was a fine, young man, and this action was not indicative of his life style. In a moment of anger, he made a very dangerous decision. But perhaps there is something that can come from this sad loss of life that can help us to avoid devastation in our own lives.
You see, regardless of the outcome of the investigation, and regardless of who did what to whom that night, we all experience anger. And, when angry, our first reaction is usually to “get even” by hurting the other person. That is why the apostle Paul said, “be angry and yet do not sin” (Ephesians 4:26). Even when our anger is righteous, or in reaction to injustice and sinfulness in the world, anger serves only to feed the beast called revenge…and typically causes us to sin.
Wanting to “even the score,” or take revenge, usually leads to one of two things: sin on our part or hurting ourselves further. In Romans 12:19, Paul reminds us of God’s command:
Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY,” says the Lord.
But more often than not, people think they know better. Either they are unwilling to wait on the Lord’s justice, or they are unable to trust in it. Or, worse still, we don’t wait on God because we know that God is a forgiving God and we don’t want to see others forgiven (Jonah 4)! But scripture reads:
“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad” (2 Corinthians 5:10).
In 1 Samuel 25, we learn of a man named Nabal, and his wife, Abigail. Nabal insulted David, and David was on his way to kill Nabal, when Nabal’s wife Abigail intervened. She convinced David not to take revenge on Nabal, saying that his actions were those of a fool (Nabal even means fool). David agreed, seeing the wisdom in her argument. About 10 days later, Nabal, whose heart had failed him, was struck by the Lord and fell dead.
David, in a moment of passion, insult, and anger, almost made a horrible decision to do harm to someone because of the perceived damage Nabal had done to him. When he heard Abigail’s words of reason, David said in 1 Samuel 25:33:
“May you be blessed for your good judgment and for keeping me from bloodshed this day and from avenging myself with my own hands.”
David realized something that we forget too often – Vengeance belongs to the Lord. Most of us heard it this way growing up, “two wrongs don’t make a right.” Holding anger in our hearts, despising and hating others, trying to bring about revenge on our own, in this lifetime, will never result in glory to God. Those are the actions of the fool. Rather, trust in the Lord. Forgive those who have trespassed against you. Live your life fully for the Lord. And know, in that day, that justice will be served.
And the truth is, none of us will live up to the perfect standard by which we will be judged. All fallen short; we all need forgiven. Know that the blood of Jesus was shed for the forgiveness of those who would ask, seek, and knock. Have you heard the gospel? Have you turned away from a life dedicated to sin? Have you confessed Jesus as the Son of God? Have you been baptized for the forgiveness of sin? If not, why not seek His Word and learn more about the grace and mercy of God.
#stewart, #ward, #forgiven, #revenge, #vengeance