If you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering . . . and go; first be reconciled to your brother.
We all fall short of God’s standard for righteousness in our relationships with other people. So how do we repair relationships that have been severed? In Matthew 5:23-26, Jesus gave us two important principles for repairing damaged relationships.
First, reconciliation is more powerful than revenge. When somebody wrongs us, our natural instinct is to hurt them–and thus begins an escalation in hostility that many times ends with the destruction of both parties. Jesus showed us a better way. Verses 23-24 say, “If you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.” In other words, if you are in church and you remember that somebody else has something against you, leave. Go to that person and seek to be reconciled to them. Make restitution if necessary. Repent.
Maybe you do not know what you have done to put a barrier between that person and you. What do you do then? Go to them and say, “I sense there is something that has come between us. Please tell me what I have done so I can make it right.” The other person may or may not want to reconcile with you, but you are responsible for making the effort. Romans 12:18 says, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.” In a fractured relationship, reconciliation is more powerful than revenge.
Second, reconcile today rather than tomorrow. Look at Matthew 5:25-26: “Make friends quickly with your opponent at law while you are with him on the way, so that your opponent may not hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the officer, and you be thrown into prison. Truly I say to you, you will not come out of there until you have paid up the last cent.” In Jesus’s day, if you owed somebody money and could not pay, you would be thrown into debtors’ prison until you repaid. Guess what? While you were in prison, the interest on your debt would pile up until it became almost impossible to get out. Jesus was saying it is much better to make peace with your opponent now before you are thrown into prison with an ever-increasing debt.
My wife and I rarely argue, but when we do, if it is my fault, I have learned it is much better to ask her forgiveness that day. The longer I wait, the more my debt increases. And frankly, the bigger the debt becomes, the less likely I am to ask forgiveness–and the less likely she is to grant forgiveness. Reconciling today is wiser than reconciling tomorrow.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Straight Talk About Your Relationships” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2022.
Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org