Friday, April 17

Go and reconcile

Scripture: 1 Samuel 20-21, Psalm 34, Matthew 5

Matthew 5:23–24  “So if you are presenting a sacrifice at the altar in the Temple and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, 24 leave your sacrifice there at the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God.”

Observation

So much in today’s reading—David and Jonathan’s friendship; I love Psalm 34; and all of Matthew 5!  But these verses jumped out at me…again.

Jesus took the OT prohibition against murder and extended it to anger.  He did this with several other OT laws, moving them from the external act to the internal attitude—the heart.  We’re not to be angry with our brother, or call him names or curse him.  Get rid of anger!

Then, this saying in v. 23-24.  

The Jews would offer sacrifice at the temple to restore their broken relationship with God.  They would lay their hands on the sacrificial animal and confess their sin, transferring the guilt to the animal which then died in their place.  But they understood that if their sin was against another person, the sacrifice didn’t count until they had made things right with that person.  For example, if they had stolen something, the sacrifice wouldn’t atone for their sin unless they had first returned the stolen item and apologized.  One had to put things right with his brother before he could be right with God.  

Jesus is reminding them of that great truth here.  You can’t be put right with God until you have done your best to be right with your brother.  

Application

We don’t go to the Temple to offer sacrifices.  Jesus is the sacrifice to end all sacrifices.  He took our guilt and died in our place—once for all.  Once for all time and all people.

So let’s translate this to our context.  If you are at worship—at church worshipping God—and remember that someone has something against you, leave church, go and be reconciled.  Then come back and worship God.  Or if you are praying, confessing your sin to God and asking forgiveness (1 John 1:9), and remember that someone has something against you, go and be reconciled, then come back and finish praying. 

Reconciliation of a broken human relationship takes priority over worship or prayer!  It’s as if God says, “I’ll wait.  Go fix that broken relationship and then come worship Me or talk with Me.  I’ll wait.” 

God seems to put the highest priority on our relationships with each other.  How many stories have you heard of someone who is dying trying to mend a long-broken relationship before they die?  Don’t wait!  Do it now!  That’s the message of these verses.  You’ll be so glad you did.  Imagine living with a clear conscience and no broken relationships!

That’s how Jesus wants us to live our lives—as best we can.  We can’t control how the other person will respond, which is why Paul wrote, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”  (Romans 12:18). But go do your best and leave it in God’s hands.

Prayer: Lord, as I pray today, show me if there is anyone with whom I need to go and reconcile.  Help me to live with a clean slate.