Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift. (Matthew 5:23–24)
Jesus makes the above statement during a message on right relationships with others, especially with brothers and sisters in Christ. It is no use to try to work out a right relationship with God at the altar when one is living in a wrong relationship with others.
When preaching on this passage during a pastors conference, one of the teachers said: “Nothing spiritual will happen until there is reconciliation.” Forget trying to offer a gift to God—even the gift of your worship. “First be reconciled to your brother.” It is important to go to someone when you already know you have wronged him or her, but it is also important when you aren’t sure or when the Spirit prompts you that there may be something you are unaware of between you and another person. If you don’t know about a problem, God will not hold you responsible. But ask God to reveal the truth within your heart, and go to anyone you think might have something against you. It’s a good idea to review our relationships with others each time we come into the presence of God in worship.
Years ago, I was a sailing instructor at a camp in Washington’s Puget Sound. Sometimes the tide currents were stronger than the wind that was driving the sailboat. One time when the tide and waves were washing us into shore, I spoke too harshly to the one I was instructing. I hollered at him, to be honest. That night around the campfire, I could not get peace in my soul until I asked him to forgive me. I figured I had really blown it with him, regarding my Christian witness. Later one morning, he followed me out to where I was having a quiet time and we talked. The next morning we talked again, and he accepted Christ as his Savior.
It is always hard to say “I’m sorry,” especially when one who is older has to go to one who is younger or when a father has to go to his child. But this is so important to God that Jesus said there is no use even trying to worship and honor Him until there is reconciliation. Keeping short accounts like this is about the only way to avoid resentments that can grow into bitterness, which can cause lives to be damaged.
I believe this commandment teaches an important requirement if we want to see revival in the church. Many of us have been praying for years for an outpouring of God’s Spirit, but Jesus is telling us that we need to put feet to our prayers and be reconciled to one another before He will answer. A lack of reconciliation is what often keeps unity in the Body of Christ from occurring. It takes great humility to seek out a brother or sister and ask for or extend forgiveness. Yet, when we obey the command of Christ to do so, we open the heart of God to receive our worship.
Heavenly Father, when I come to You in worship, speak to my heart if there is any relationship that needs healing. Even if I don’t feel guilty, help me remember if someone has something against me and go with me to that person as we seek reconciliation. Lord, would You pour out that spirit of reconciliation upon Your people? Heal our relationships with one another as You have healed my relationship with You through Jesus.
–Adapted from Encountering Jesus: Praying the Commands of Christ into Your Life by Norval Hadley. This book is available at prayershop.org. Use the code CONPSP3 at checkout to receive an additional 10% discount.
Extra Commands to Pray. A FREE PDF DOWNLOAD that goes along with the book, Encountering Jesus: Praying the Commands of Christ into Your Life. It includes content for additional commands that the book does not cover.
Encountering Jesus is also available on Kindle and Nook. One Kindle reader said: “While I knew (know) of Jesus biblical commands, I did not really know how to translate them into my life on a daily basis. Norval Hadley’s book showed me how. It will put energy into your prayer life.”
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Praise God for caring intimately about you. Thank God for choosing you to help fulfill his plans. Confess any self-centeredness or preoccupation with your desires and needs rather than those of God and others. Commit yourself to walking under the Spirit’s control, trusting him with the circumstances of life (Ps. 31:15). Ask for more sensitivity to the needs of others.
Pray for persons who have decided to follow false religions. Ask God to open their hearts and minds to Jesus Christ, who is the way, the truth, and the life (Jn. 14:6).
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