“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift. (Matthew 5:23-24)
How important is forgiveness? How important is reconciliation? Well, when you offer a sacrifice to the Lord God, and then discover something that gets in the way. And I say that, because Jesus is telling us that there is something we must do first before we offer our sacrifice to God.
Although the ritual of the sacrifices are no longer needed for the Christian (Christ having been our sacrifice) the principles still apply. Isaiah gives us quite a picture of God being sick and tired of their sacrifices. But here’s what they could do—from their hearts: Wash yourselves and be clean! Get your sins out of my sight. Give up your evil ways. Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the cause of orphans. Fight for the rights of widows. (Isaiah 1:16-17)
Does that sound like something we should still be doing? Of course. And by the way, Jesus “mentions” it in the Lord’s Prayer (which like today’s verses, is also from the Sermon on the Mount):
And forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us. Matthew 6:12 NLT) And He goes on: “If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.” (6:14-15)
So yeah, there may be some things you need to take care of before you seek forgiveness from God.
Today’s One Thing:
Simply put, the two Great Commandments are: Love God and love people. As you seek to fulfill those commands, in prayer, ask whether there needs to be some earthly reconciliations which need to take place. You may find actions or relationships, either ancient or modern, which still need forgiving.
Next time, we’ll explore a short and true ancient story.