23 Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, 24 leave your gift at the altar and go. First make things right with your brother or sister and then come back and offer your gift.
These two verses present a high bar for forgiveness. Jesus suggests that when we are not in right relationship with our brothers and sisters, we can’t possibly be in right relationship with God either.
It’s easy for us, when we feel someone has broken relationship or broken trust with us, to say, “I’ve done my part…so if they don’t respond, it’s on them.” Jesus suggests here that even when someone has “something against you” – that it’s still on you to go and try to repair the relationship. Presumably that’s because it’s you who are feeling your conscience pricked by what’s happened. If it’s been brought to your mind and is getting in the way of your worship, Jesus says – then it’s worth addressing – whether they reciprocate or not.
Will we always be able to “fix” a broken relationship? Of course not. Is it always incumbent upon us to be ready to try? Absolutely.
By Joe Monahan
For Pondering & Prayer
Is there a relationship in your life that’s experienced challenges? How did you get through those difficulties? What are some things you did or attitudes that needed to shift in order to make the difference?
Prayer: God, you created us to be in relationship with each other. We know that we cannot do any relationship perfectly. When we fall short and hurt each other, help us to have the courage to speak the truth, to come to a deeper understanding, to forgive and be forgiven. Let us do this as often as we need to, knowing that to love like you love means new mercy every day. In Jesus’ name, amen.