Matthew 5:23-24 (NIV): “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.”
Relationships between God’s people are of major importance to Him. It is not enough to simply avoid physical mistreatment or murder; insofar as it is dependent on us, we are to all live at peace with everyone. (Romans 12:18) This is especially true in relationships between one of God’s people and another; we are all brothers and sisters, children of the same Father, and must allow nothing to come between us. There are a couple of reasons for this:
- · Our sacrificial love for each other is a clear demonstration of God’s presence and power in our midst. (John 13:35) If we allow hurt feelings to fester and divide us, that witness is effectively destroyed. If we ever allow the hurt to turn into hatred or factions, or if we ever end up dividing people, forming factions, or even leaving a congregation because of it, destroying the unity in that body, those actions smear God’s name, and cast a shadow of disrepute over His character.
- · God has left His people (US!) a job to do: to evangelize the whole world (including our own Jerusalems, Judeas, and Samarias – our cities and states). The only way that this can be effectively accomplished is if we all work together in harmony, as one body. An arm, or a leg, or even a head all by itself can accomplish nothing. In the same way, no one person or small block of people can accomplish God’s task alone. He has given the manifestation of His presence to the BODY, not just to individual parts of it, and no one has all that is necessary – we must all work together. If disagreements, divisions, or hurts divide the body, it effectively halts the work entirely, and time, energy, emotion, and even finances, must be spent trying to heal the rift and getting the body back on its feet once again.
If we realize that division has occurred in the Church, especially if it is because of something that we have said or done, we must not delay in making it right. We should even leave the worship service to patch things up -it’s that important! We must humble ourselves, repent, apologize, and make it right. We must never excuse away behavior that has caused a rift; we have to own it, and put into place whatever we must to make sure that it doesn’t happen again. After we have made peace, after we have restored unity to the body, THEN we can come and offer our worship to God, and He will receive it.
Father, I’m afraid that Your Church is fairly riddled with divisions and separations between brothers and sisters. I can see that this is one huge reason why we are less effective that we must be to carry out Your mission. Many pray for You to make us one, when the whole time it is up to US to make it right with those we have hurt. Forgive us, Lord. Open our eyes so that we can clearly see anyplace we must go to do the work necessary to make the healing that must take place. Help us to know anyone who has something against us, so that we can go to them, confess, repent, and find their forgiveness, so that Your whole body may be one, and Your work move forward. Amen.