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. (vv. 23-24)
Notice that Jesus says that your brother has something against you. Since the first word of this verse is therefore, we have to back up a couple of verses to get the context. In the preceding two verses Jesus talks to us about our anger, our harsh words, and our rash judgments leveled at others. In other words, things we have done to others which has made them upset at us.
In our prayer time, the Holy Spirit will help us remember what we have done. Now what are you going to do about it? Excuse it? Justify it? Or will you rectify it? Will you be obedient to go and make it right?
Until we do, we’re keeping our offended brother or sister in bondage to us. But as soon as we ask forgiveness, we set them free.
I love what C.S. Lewis said about recognizing where we may have offended someone—
“When I come to my evening prayers and try to reckon up the sins of the day, nine times out of ten the most obvious one is some sin against charity; I have sulked or snapped or sneered or snubbed or stormed. And the excuse that immediately springs to mind is that the provocation was so sudden or unexpected. I was caught off my guard, I had not time to collect myself…. Surely what a man does when he is taken off guard is the best evidence of what sort of man he is. Surely what pops out before the man has time to put on a disguise is the truth. If there are rats in the cellar you are most likely to see them if you go in very suddenly. But the suddenness did not create the rats; it only prevents them from hiding. In the same way the suddenness of the provocation does not make me an ill-tempered man: it only shows what an ill-tempered man I am.”
When the Holy Spirit shows you the rats in your cellar—when He helps you remember how your ratty words or behavior hurt someone else—take care of it immediately! It’s the fastest way to freedom!
I will be speaking on The Danger Of Prayerlessness again next Sunday. I hope you can join me.