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. Matthew 5:23-24
In Jesus’ teaching on anger, he gives a very specific example of the Jewish sacrificial system. He says, “if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you.” In this context, he was referring to Jews who would come to Jerusalem once or twice a year to offer a sacrifice in the inner court of the temple. They would typically wait in long lines to perform this solemn duty. Which means a person would have plenty of time to think about the areas of friction in their life as they were preparing to enter a sacred place for an intentional encounter with God.
Although Jesus is using a very contextual illustration, Jesus is assuming there are times when we notice areas of conflict in our life. Moments when we become aware of relational tensions or internal entanglements. In these times, Jesus wants us to be aware of it so we can do something about it. He wants us to take action to make things right. In this example, the other person is angry and we may be innocent. Still, it seems the presence of anger in the church, between brothers or sisters, is such a destructive cancer that reconciliation is of utmost priority.
Taking a step toward someone who is angry can be like provoking an angry animal. Moving toward them can be threatening. Yet, it can also be disarming when done in humility and with grace. Awareness is not enough to move toward reconciliation. We must leave what we’re doing and go to the person in love to begin the reconciliation process. So, spend a few minutes in silence today, asking the Lord to alert you of a current area of tension or conflict in your relationships. But, only allow the Lord to help you gain perspective on the situation when you’re ready to do what he says. Pray, “Lord, what you say, I will do, no matter the difficulty it requires of me. What I do to smooth out this relationship is for you and your glory.”
By Yvonne Biel