Journal Entry // April 6, 2023
So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you,  leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. (ESV)Matthew 5:23-24
Once again Jesus is demonstrating the importance of dealing with sin that has captured and ensnared us. Here he tells us that reconciliation with the one we have wronged is more important than the gift we are offering to God. Truly, in order for us to have an acceptable offering to God, we must first be reconciled with others. Harboring anger and bitterness or having wronged someone is to always precede sacrifice and service toward God. Reconciliation with our brother is vital to our reconciliation with God.
First be reconciled. This is a bit surprising to read. My first inclination is to think that I must first give my offering to God. That I must prioritize my service and offering to God over and above anything. So to read Jesus instructing me to seek reconciliation with my brother first, seems contradictory. Shouldn’t I first come before the Lord in humility?
Isn’t this the key though? How can I come before the Lord in humility when my heart is harboring anger, resentment, or bitterness toward my brother? How can I truly seek the Lord with a humble heart, when my brother has something against me? To restore fellowship with God, I must first restore fellowship with my brother.
How do I know when my brother has something against me? I would like to say that I probably already know when I have wronged another. Unless my anger and bitterness are blinding me, my heart should already perceive the broken fellowship and relationship. Or I am blind to it, then the Lord will reveal this to me. Notice that Jesus tells me to leave my gift on the alter. Here there is a blindness or ignorance to the need for reconciliation and an assumption that the Spirit will prompt my heart to remember.
When I feel a dryness to my spiritual life or when God seems distant, this could be the reminder I need to seek reconciliation with my brother. Seek reconciliation first with my brother, then come in humility before the Lord. Jesus prioritizes relationships and so should I. As I examine my heart for sin, I must include my personal community relationships as well as my obedience and relationship with Christ. Reconciliation with my brother and repentance before my Lord.