"Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else." 1 Thessalonians 5:15 NIV
Once upon a time in American history, there were two families, the Hatfields, and the McCoys. The feud began in 1860, when the Hatfields, who fought on the side of the Confederate army, murdered a McCoy, whom they believed killed a friend during the war. The feud escalated from there, ending with the trial of several Hatfield family members sent to prison for life in the killing of two McCoy children. The feud had lasted over 30 years.
Any time we repay wrong (evil) with wrong, things never end well for anyone. The stain from our actions and the resulting emotional scars are unhealthy physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Moreover, the shame of those disagreements can be lasting, carried beyond our time on earth -- the Hatfield/McCoy feud was over 130 years ago, and it's still remembered. Of course, Jesus will forgive us of our sins if we earnestly repent, but along with that forgiveness must come a change of heart. Even then, we carry with us the shameful memories.
Today's scripture reinforces what we already know. Better to return that wrong with goodness. The world's response is revenge and hate -- evil, but the righteous response is to do good and share God’s love. In responding with love, there will never be regrets.
Gracious, forgiving God, we give you thanks for your unconditional love. We confess when others do wrong to us, our instinct is to respond with evil. Please help us to remember Christ's example. Even when faced with death on the cross, he asked forgiveness for others. As we go about our days, help us to respond with that kind of love and forgiveness. Help us to do good. Amen.
According to History.com, “Devil Anse Hatfield, who had long proclaimed his skepticism about religion, was born again later in life when he was baptized for the first time at age 73.”
“The Hatfield & Mccoy Feud.” History.com, A&E Television Networks, www.history.com/shows/hatfields-and-mccoys/articles/the-hatfield-mccoy-feud.