21 “You have heard that it was said to those who lived long ago, Don’t commit murder, and all who commit murder will be in danger of judgment. 22 But I say to you that everyone who is angry with their brother or sister will be in danger of judgment. If they say to their brother or sister, ‘You idiot,’ they will be in danger of being condemned by the governing council. And if they say, ‘You fool,’ they will be in danger of fiery hell. 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. 25 Be sure to make friends quickly with your opponents while you are with them on the way to court. Otherwise, they will haul you before the judge, the judge will turn you over to the officer of the court, and you will be thrown into prison. 26 I say to you in all seriousness that you won’t get out of there until you’ve paid the very last penny.
Reconciliation is at the heart of Christianity. Paul talks about the reason for Christ’s coming as God “reconciling the world to himself” (2 Corinthians 5:19). To reconcile is to be restored to right relationship.
Jesus taught that we cannot be right with God until and unless we get right with others. He even goes so far as to tell his followers: get up and walk out of worship if you have to – God will wait! Go to that person you offended and try to make things right.
That’s how much Jesus values human relationships: their importance even outranks worship. And that makes sense to me. Because God will always be there, but your brother or sister may not be.
Now, of course, there are times when the other party may not ever be open to reconciliation. We need to remember that certain relationships are not recoverable – and sometimes attempts to reconcile may just cause more hurt. But that’s the exception rather than the rule.
Jesus’ perspective is that reconciliation is always preferred. This requires courage to approach the one we’ve wronged, humility to admit our fault, and patience to listen to their pain. It’s the more difficult way, but it’s the path we’re called to walk if we want to follow Jesus.
by Joe Monahan
For Pondering & Prayer
Is there a relationship in your life in need of reconciliation? Pray about it today, and be willing to take the first step towards this person in response to your prayer.
Prayer: Jesus, you have reconciled the world to yourself through the cross. And we recognize that the way of reconciliation and restoration of relationships is costly. Help us to be willing to bear this burden so that we might learn to love as you have loved us. Amen.