Offering Forgiveness (Liberation)
“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.”
“Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still with him on the way, or he may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison. I tell you the truth, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.”
Jesus tells us that when we find ourselves faced with troubles and conflict concerning fellow believers, or even our foes and adversaries, it is part of our calling and privilege to do our best to make things right. Harmony with others may not always be achievable, yet as Christians we should not be the ones responsible for the lack of relationship or peace. Paul tells us:
If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. (Romans 12:18)
We are to bring peace, love, and forgiveness into all our relationships in spite of all of our differences, no matter how difficult they may be! It is simply not about us! This is part of the dying to self. It behooves us to remember that forgiveness is for the forgiver. When we harbor ill will for another it does nothing but poison us. Forgiveness on the other hand breathes life into our souls. Sin always destroys while obedience brings life in abundance.
“Forgiveness saves us the expense of anger, the cost of hatred, the waste of spirits.” (Hannah More)
We are to labor for reconciliation whenever a breach has occurred in any relationship, but particularly with fellow believers. I cannot believe God applauds any division in His Body, the Church. In our verses for today Jesus states that we are unfit for communion with God when we harbor ill will against our brothers and sisters in Christ.
Love and forgiveness is better than burnt offerings; our humble attempts at reconciliation will always be a sweet smelling sacrifice to the Father. It is God’s desire for us to be a quickly forgiving people; those who are slow to become angry and quick to forgive. We are not to be a people who harbor, smolder, and seethe, seeking revenge rather than forgiveness. It is the way our Lord demonstrated, even as He hung on the cross:
Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots. (Luke 23:33-34)
Do we find ourselves in the unenviable position whereby we are being persecuted by Christians? It is both the teaching and example of Jesus that we are to forgive, difficult as that may seem. Yet with God, nothing is impossible! He never calls us to obedience without equipping us for the task. He is the ever ready supply of grace, sufficient to meet our need.
Take It to Heart
“Make me into a rock which swallows up the waves of wrong in its great caverns and never throws them back to swell the commotion of the angry sea from whence they came. Ah! To annihilate wrong in this way–to say, ‘It shall not be wrong against me, so utterly do I forgive it!’” (George MacDonald)
“You never touch the ocean of God’s love as when you forgive and love your enemies.” (Corrie Ten Boom)
“The man who is truly forgiven and knows it is a man who forgives.”