Lent – Day 13 – A Study of Matthew 5
“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
Under the old law, the Law of Moses, offerings were commanded and often given without regard for anything other than keeping the Law. But Jesus puts a different perspective on the giving of offerings and sacrifices made to the Lord. It was not enough to simply give, even in a disingenuous attitude. Now, under the New Law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, giving was tied to the attitude of the heart and to forgiveness of offences. Gifts brought before God were extensions of the giver’s heart. God did not want nor did He need the empty sacrifices of the Pharisees that purported to honor God but were filled with hypocrisy because they disregarded what Jesus called the weightier matters of the Law.
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone.” Matthew 23:23
When we hold grudges and harbor unforgiveness our gifts are not acceptable to God because they are given without respect for His commandment to love one another and to forgive so that we may be forgiven. When we do not operate in Love we are not making our offerings and sacrifices as unto the Lord but we are motivated by another spirit. Unforgiveness is unrighteousness, and unrighteousness is sin. We cannot bring an offering motivated by our disobedience and expect to be accepted on our terms, disregarding His. All that is sin is of the devil.
So then, forgive quickly and if while you are worshipping God He prompts in your spirit the remembrance of an offence that has not been reconciled with your brother, leave your offering and go quickly and do whatever is necessary to make amends for your offence and seek forgiveness. When you have confessed and earnestly repented of your offense, (that is, acknowledged it before God and sought forgiveness of the one you offended) If then you do not receive forgiveness from them as God has commanded that then becomes a matter between them and the Lord. You have done your part and your offering is then acceptable.
Forgiveness is not a suggestion, not an option, not a matter of small significance. It is fundamental to our salvation. Jesus is very clear on the matter.
“Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven. Therefore the kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. And when he had begun to settle accounts, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. But as he was not able to pay, his master commanded that he be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and that payment be made. The servant therefore fell down before him, saying, “Master, have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt. “But that servant went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and he laid hands on him and took him by the throat, saying, ‘Pay me what you owe!’ So his fellow servant fell down at his feet and begged him, saying, “Have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ And he would not, but went and threw him into prison till he should pay the debt. So when his fellow servants saw what had been done, they were very grieved, and came and told their master all that had been done. Then his master, after he had called him, said to him, “You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?’ And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him. “So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.” Matthew 18:21-35
As heinous and despicable as any offense against us maybe, our offense against the love of Jesus was greater, yet, while we were yet sinners He loved us still and died for us so we would be forgiven. Forgiving is not always easy. Jesus suffered death to do it. And sometimes we have to suffer a kind of death to our emotions and our sense of righteous indignation in order to truly forgive the one who perpetrates such evil on others and particularly those we love. The power to live this way can only come from God. But we have His assurance that He will always confirm us in it and in the ages to come reveal His higher calling for us in doing so.
Most of the issues we face that require forgiveness are far less profound than those most egregious acts of offense that touch the deepest part of our being, but all unforgiveness is equally detrimental to our faith and our salvation. So forgive quickly, hold no grudges and yield to the leading of the Holy Spirit to choose to love rather than to fear or be offended.
"For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known." 1 Corinthians 13:12