Repairing the Breach

Matthew 5:23-24 (NASB)
"Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering."

Many go to church on Sunday as is their custom to hear the word of God preached. They go to be spiritually fed and to fellowship with other believers. And that is as it should be. But believers are human, and being human they sometimes make mistakes and offend their siblings in Christ.

Sometimes we may be in a dispute with another believer over a matter. All too often disputes are handled poorly and it causes a division, a lack of fellowship, and a hindrance to truly loving the other as Christ loves that person.

How can we as Christians come to church to sing praises to God, to worship Him, to contribute offerings of time, talents, and money, and yet have something against another believer? Does not holding a grudge, harboring unforgiveness, hinder one's prayers for personal forgiveness to God? Yes it does. Jesus said, "For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions." (Matthew 6:14-15)

How can we profess love for Jesus yet dispute in an ungodly manner with one another in the church, or hold grudges against each other? Scripture says, "If someone says, 'I love God,' and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen." (1 John 4:20) These are sobering words from the word of God.

One can go to church faithfully for 50 years, give millions of dollars to the church, or make extensive use of one's talents for the church. Yet if this person has a dispute with another saint and holds a grudge against that person, an attitude of unforgiveness, all the time and money put into the church mean nothing before God. Absolutely nothing! 1 Corinthians 13:3 says, "And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing."

That person could just as well be an unbeliever. Why? Because love does not reside in the heart. Unforgiveness has become a cancer within. And you either destroy the cancer or the cancer will destroy you. Scripture again says, "Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God." (1 John 4:7) An important question we as Christians must ponder carefully is this. Are you born of God? Do you love your brother, your sister? We must search our hearts, for the Bible says, "Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you -- unless indeed you fail the test?" (2 Corinthians 13:5)

So what is the point of all this? If you have a dispute with another, or if you have offended or wronged another, before you come to church and put your offering in the collection plate, make peace with the one with whom you are at odds. Confess your sin in true humility, make restitution where appropriate, and seek reconciliation. In doing so you would be showing love to your siblings in Christ and fulfilling the Lord's command:

"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another." (John 13:34-35)

May the grace of the Father, the love of the Son, and the inner ministry of the Holy Spirit help us to love, to truly forgive, and be reconciled to one another.

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