September 8, 2009
Long Standing Grudges
Not too long ago a friend was sharing with me about a recent family gathering. It seems that the extended family got together for a celebration of some kind and shocked themselves when both sides of the feuding family actually showed up. They couldn’t remember why they had stopped talking to each other, and so they just decided to show up anyway. They had a great evening together laughing over the supposed feud!
There have been some powerful feuds down through history. Elizabeth the First hated her cousin, Mary Queen of Scots and had her imprisoned for some 20 years before she had her beheaded! This side of the Atlantic, Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr feuded personally and politically for a long time. Ultimately, while Burr was the Vice President of the country, he killed Hamilton in a pistol’s duel.
But the most famous American feud was between the Hatfields and McCoys. These two families lived near the border of West Virginia and Kentucky. The first killing occurred in 1865. The next violent reaction was focused on a disputed pig! By the time they agreed to stop killing each other in 1891, over ten people had been murdered. (I had to laugh though. It seems that in 1979 their descendents appeared on the TV program, Family Feud and worked out their differences over a game show!)
There is an example of a major grudge in the New Testament. In Mark 6, the gospel writer tells us the story of John the Baptist being beheaded. John had been confronting Herod about his marrying his brother’s wife, Herodias. And the bible says Herodias “…nursed a grudge against John and wanted to kill him.” She had her daughter please Herod with a sensual dance and got him to promise John’s head on a platter. The grudge ended with John beheaded.
In our culture, a disagreement may start rather casually. Someone offends someone else. Unkind words are expressed. Feelings are hurt. But in order to sustain a real grudge, the irritation over time must grow into hatred and that hatred needs to be stoked and sustained through misunderstanding and anger. Arguing over who owns a pig seems silly to us, but the substance of other feuds are just as silly. Selfish, self-oriented people take offense and over time, a family or a company or a church or a friendship is split. People retreat to their “corners” and fellowship is broken (often times permanently).
Maybe this week is a good time to review our extended relationships. Are there any fences that need mending? Is there a grudge that can be ignored? Is there an argument that can be forgiven? Is there a relationship that can be restored?
Paul is speaking to us (as well as the Galatians) in Galatians 6:1-2: “…you who are spiritual, restore him (the one we hold a grudge with) gently. But watch yourself, or you may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”
Warmest Regards in Christ,
Sherry L. Worel
Stoneybrooke Christian Schools