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Thursday, March 21, 2019

Matthew 5:23-24

Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.
Matthew 5:23-24

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said some pretty astounding things like, "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall not murder,' and 'whoever murders shall be in danger of the judgment.' But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother shall be in danger of the judgment, and whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council, and whoever says, 'You fool' shall be in danger of hellfire."

These words about anger—outrageous words from a human standpoint—immediately precede the "therefore" in verse 23. It is simply astonishing how Jesus exposes us as One who is intimately acquainted with all our ways. How often angry words have damaged relationships, sometimes for years! From texts written in haste to disagreements that escalated into heated arguments, words often cause enmity. "The tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity," James said, "and it is set on fire by hell" (James 3:6).

The response to this scenario, Jesus said, is to listen to the Spirit when you remember the incident—even in church. Leave immediately, go and first be reconciled to your brother or sister, then go back to church having a clean conscience. Forgive, so you can be forgiven.

Miraculous reconciliations have taken place when believers have taken these words of Jesus seriously. Angry arguments rarely leave anyone with clean hands, so someone has to be the first to bring the olive branch and say, "I was wrong. Please forgive me." Jesus said, let that person be you.

Tom Day



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