“So if you are standing before the altar in the Temple, offering a sacrifice to God, and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, leave your sacrifice there beside the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God. Come to terms quickly with your enemy before it is too late and you are dragged into court, handed over to an officer, and thrown in jail. I assure you that you won’t be free again until you have paid the last penny.” (Matthew 5:23-26 NLT)
This scripture is rich, but as I sat here reading it, wondering if I fully understand how to explain it, Holy Spirit led me to read it in another version… Actually, I’m going to use a paraphrase from The Message Bible… Hallelujah! Don’t you love how the Lord makes things plain for us?
“This is how I want you to conduct yourself in these matters. If you enter your place of worship and, about to make an offering, you suddenly remember a grudge a friend has against you, abandon your offering, leave immediately, go to this friend and make things right. Then and only then, come back and work things out with God. “Or say you’re out on the street and an old enemy accosts you. Don’t lose a minute. Make the first move; make things right with him. After all, if you leave the first move to him, knowing his track record, you’re likely to end up in court, maybe even jail. If that happens, you won’t get out without a stiff fine.” (Matthew 5:23-26 MSG)
Now this is Jesus speaking to us. “This is how I want you to conduct yourself in these matters.” The bible is not only our love letter from God, it’s also our instruction manual. Do you want to know how to respond to a particular situation? Pray, then seek the answer in the instruction manual… 🙂
“If you enter your place of worship and, about to make an offering, you suddenly remember a grudge a friend has against you, abandon your offering, leave immediately, go to this friend and make things right.”
Do you get what Jesus just said here? Boy, (now I’m going to step on some toes), this isn’t a message I’ve ever heard preached… Listen to this now, if you’re in church, worshiping, thinking about the argument you just had with whomever, abandon your offering… throw it down on the pew, back in your purse, whatever – drop it! Oh, and I love this part – immediately!
Wow! I always get pictures of things in my mind when I read something or think of something, and I boy do I have a mental picture right now! I wonder how many people would get up and run out of church on any given Sunday, if everyone actually obeyed this command? And it is a command!
Wouldn’t it be awesome if that happened? Can you see it? They’re singing the offering song, and as people are fishing around in their wallets and purses, a video flashes on the screens of their minds, of the argument they just had with someone, and several throw their purses or wallets down and run out. Everyone’s heads turn around to see what the commotion at the back of the church is all about, and suddenly they think of someone that they offended… maybe they didn’t say a word to that person… maybe that person just misunderstood them, but they know that person was offended, and up till now, they didn’t do anything about it. But NOW, as the Holy Spirit convicts them, they throw their money down and rush out the door… or maybe over to a brother or sister in the next pew… and they apologize and ask for forgiveness…
Now, after you make things right with the person you offended, you can come back and make your offering. Then and only then, come back and work things out with God.
Do you know one thing that irritates me with too many Christians? They are quick to pray, “O God, forgive me for cussing so and so out. Have mercy on me! I’m sorry Lord,” but they never seek forgiveness from the one they hurt.
Many times, it never occurs to someone that it isn’t enough to say you’re sorry to God. He wants us to be reconciled with the people that we’ve hurt… He even wants us to be reconciled with the people who have hurt us…
“Or say you’re out on the street and an old enemy accosts you. Don’t lose a minute. Make the first move; make things right with him. After all, if you leave the first move to him, knowing his track record, you’re likely to end up in court, maybe even jail. If that happens, you won’t get out without a stiff fine.”
Ok, so I’m walking down the sidewalk and someone from my past, who tormented me, approaches me. Notice the scripture doesn’t say that you were necessarily the one in the wrong… it could be that the other person hurt you. Go make peace with them anyway. There’s such wisdom in that… and it seems so wrong to my flesh…
Now wait just a minute, Lord! Are you trying to tell me that I need to approach that no good so and so after all the hell they put me through? Lord, have You lost Your mind?
“Do your part to live in peace with everyone, as much as possible.” (Romans 12:18 NLT)
But Lord, they hurt me!
“You hurt Me, and I forgave you.”
But they lied about me!
“You lied about Me too, and I forgave you.”
But they deserve to be punished!
“Beloved, you deserve hell, but I paid the price for you so that you wouldn’t have to go there. Forgive them, and you will be forgiven.”
But Lord, it still hurts!
“I know, My love, but that’s because you won’t let it go. Forgive them, Child, let it go, and I will carry your pain.”
Lord, I don’t know if I can…
“You can’t do it on your own, but you can do all things through Me. I will give you My strength to forgive and overcome the pain – if you want it.”
I do want it Lord. By Your grace and Your power, I can go to my enemy who hurt me and I can forgive in Your precious name.”
Hallelujah! Enough said? Be blessed and be reconciled brothers and sisters!
Cheryl A. Showers