Matt 5: 23-24. “So 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 and then come*~ and present ~~ your gift.”
So many of us believe that we can perform a valid spiritual act (pray, donate, worship, etc.) regardless of the condition of our hearts. Even more deceptive is the belief we can separate our relationship with God from our relationships with our fellow believers.
In the first case, there is no ceremony or sacrificial spiritual act of worship that can change your spiritual relationship with God. Any spiritual act is only a symbol or an illustration of the reality in your heart. If there is no repentant heart, then there is no validity to a religious act. Jesus is saying God will not accept an act of worship that does not include the mending of any broken or offended relationship with a fellow believer.
In the second case, we are only pretending—that is, faking—in any act of worship if we have offended a brother. Any believing brother, whether we like him or not, is part of the body of Christ. Just as when Paul was persecuting Christians and Jesus asked him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” (Acts 9), so anything done (good or bad) to a Christian brother is equally done directly to Jesus.
The overarching principle is this: A believer’s relationship with the Lord is no better than his relationship with his brothers in Christ. If we have gossiped about, criticized, or verbally abused a brother, hurting him or his reputation, then we have done the same damage to Jesus, with the result that He is grieved just as the brother is grieved by our actions.
Anyone who thinks he has the right to hurt, crush, or humiliate a subordinate brother is inflicting the same hurt to the Savior. If grieving Jesus means anything, then repentance is in order.
The tense of the aorist command is to “urgently decide to be reconciled” to your brother. Decide now to make amends. The verb reconcile means to “change the mind of anyone,” or to “renew friendship with someone.”
Do not wait around until the other person changes or comes and asks forgiveness. Do not believe that it will pass, be forgotten, or get better with time. Just as you would humble yourself before the Lord for having offended Him, so you should go and reconcile with whomever you have offended, persuading him of your sorrow for hurting him (with no attempt to justify your action or words). The objective is to restore the mutual bond and the sense of oneness in Christ. Only then can we worship our Lord with sincerity.
“Why do I continue to think I can have an intimate relationship with You while I hurt others with my tongue or refuse to humble myself to ask forgiveness? Lord, keep me from living in denial so I can please You.”
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