The Hatfields and McCoys were two American Appalachian mountaineer families who, with their families and neighbors, engaged in a legendary feud that attracted nationwide attention in the 1880s and ’90s. It lasted for decades with dozens of people murdered. The origins of the feud are obscure. Some attribute it to hostilities formed during the American Civil War, in which the McCoys were Unionists and the Hatfields were Confederates. But Rand’l McCoy claims it started because a Hatfield stole one of his hogs. Regardless, it was a tragedy.
Although they ended the feud in 1891 and shook hands in 1976, Saturday, June 14, 2003, marked the official end to the Hatfields and McCoys’ feud when the families signed a truce. The feud officially lasted for 125 years. Some claim there is still some animosity.
What about you? Do you need to reach out and make amends with someone? Have you been fussing with someone for much too long? Do you need to shake hands, call a truce, and end the feud? It’s not easy, but it is the right thing to do. Maybe you know a relationship that is broken, but you don’t know what to do. You can learn four steps four steps toward reconciliation from Paul’s experience with the church in Corinth.
“Even if I caused you sorrow by my letter, I do not regret it. Though I did regret it—I see that my letter hurt you, but only for a little while— yet now I am happy, not because you were made sorry, but because your sorrow led you to repentance. For you became sorrowful as God intended and so were not harmed in any way by us. Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. See what this godly sorrow has produced in you: what earnestness, what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what alarm, what longing, what concern, what readiness to see justice done. At every point you have proved yourselves to be innocent in this matter.” (2 Corinthians 7:8-11)
Paul explains the process of reconciliation. How does this happen?
1 – CONFRONT
Someone needs to start a conversation. For me, this is the hardest part. The Apostle Paul made a personal visit and then sent a letter to the Corinthians about a situation that needed to be changed. He knew his letter would be a harsh, but he needed to send it.
There are times when we have to say things to people that they don’t want to hear. But we do it because we love them. Do you enough love for someone that you are willing to confront them with their sin? There is no progression in the Christian life without confrontation with sin.
There are other times when people should speak to us about areas of our life that need improvement. We should we reluctant to talk and yet willing to listen. Do you have that kind of person in your life? Or do you just want people to tell you what you want to hear?
2 – SORROW
When someone tells a friend the harsh reality of something wrong in their life, they have various reactions. Some will feel bad for having done it, while others will try to defend themselves or deny any wrong doing. If someone doesn’t admit wrong, there’s not much progress that can be made.
Paul talks about two kinds of sorrow. The first is a worldly sorrow. This is a sorrow that I got caught or that other people will think less of me. It is a sorrow for what I have done – I wish I hadn’t done it. This is better than not feeling sorry, but it is not enough.
3 – REPENT
Paul encourages a godly sorrow. This is a sorrow that I have hurt God. I am sorry for who I am. This kind of godly sorrow leads to repentance.
The word repentance means “change”. It doesn’t mean you are sorry you got caught. And it doesn’t mean you admit you were wrong. Repentance means you change your mind about it. Sorrow is regret – Repentance is change.
This is perfectly illustrated by the lives of Judas and Simon Peter. Both handled the events surrounding Jesus’ death in a wrong way. Judas betrayed Jesus with a kiss. Peter denied knowing Jesus three different times. Both were sorry for their actions. Although Peter was sorry, he repented and rededicated his life to Jesus. Judas let his sorrow eat him, tried to give back the money to the chief priests and in frustration committed suicide. Both were sorry. But Peter went to the right Person with his sin – Jesus.
4 – FRUIT
How can you tell if reconciliation has been made? A changed life. Paul provides a checklist for true repentance and reconciliation.
- Carefulness – not casual about sin but intentional
- Clearing of yourself – eagerness to clear themselves, make ammends
- Indignation – repulsion over sin
- Fear – God’s judgment for sin
- Vehement Desire – longing to do the right thing
- Zeal – enthusiasm about doing right
- Revenge – readiness to see justice done
The Corinthians weren’t trying to give excuses. They willingly admitted their error and did all they could to reconcile their relationship with Paul.
The oldest site in Ireland is said to be St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin. It is a beautiful building but has an interesting piece of history involving one of it’s doors – known as the ‘Door of Reconciliation.’ In 1492 two prominent Irish families, the Ormonds and the Kildares, were in the midst of a bitter feud. As the feud violent, the Earl of Ormand and his family took refuge in St. Patrick’s cathedral. As it continued, the Earl of Kildare realized the feuding was foolish. Here are two families worshiping the same God, in the same church, living in the same country, trying to kill each other. So he called to the Earl of Ormand and pledged that he would not seek revenge and wanted them to come out and end the feud. The Earl of Ormond, convinced he was lying, refused. So Kildare grabbed his spear, chopped a hole in the door, and thrust his hand through. After a few tense moments his hand was grapsed by another hand inside the church, the door was opened, and the feud was over. There is a Scottish saying, ‘Chancing one’s arm.’ It means to ‘take a chance’ in reaching out to someone in reconciliation.
Do you need to reach out your hand to someone today?