“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.” – Matthew 5:23, 24
Let’s put this in today’s terms – imagine it is Sunday morning and the pastor calls the ushers forward. The pastor prays a blessing on the gift and the giver. Then, just before the ushers come down the aisle, the pastor offers one last instruction, “Before you place your offering in the plate, first go and make right any relationship that has gone wrong.” Can you imagine the look of disbelief that would come over the congregation?
But Jesus says relationships are that important. In Chapter 12, Tom Holladay shares with us his thoughts on why fixing bad relationships should be our number one priority. Any time we allow a negative emotion to stay bottled up inside, it will fester like a sore or metastasize like a tumor until it becomes destructive. All containers eventually leak, and the longer you try and store those feelings inside, the more likely it is that they leak out and affect our actions and relationships. Time is not on your side in this situation. Procrastination will not make it any easier to deal with. We have to act immediately.
Sometimes, acting immediately means you will have to act radically to get rid of whatever is causing the negative emotions. If you saw the hit movie Fireproof, you saw an example of just how radical you may need to be. Caleb's (Kirk Cameron) marriage was in real trouble. There were many issues behind the trouble (and I hope to write a post about the movie in the future), but one had to do with his addiction to images on the internet. He knew that his actions were hurting his wife’s feelings, but his feelings were controlling his actions despite the consequences. When Caleb finally decided he was going to take responsibility for his actions, he did something that many of us have wanted to do at one time or another, but few would have the courage to do. He took the computer outside and smashed it to pieces with a baseball bat. And while his neighbor, Mr. Campbell, surely thought he was crazy, we can recognize that it was something that had to be done.
Watch the trailer below if you want to learn more about the movie.
Jesus taught that,
“if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell” - Matthew 5:30.
It doesn’t get much more radical than that. Temptation is a powerful force and many times the only way to resist is to separate yourself from the situation. If that means leaving a job, moving out of a neighborhood, or smashing your computer to tiny pieces, that’s what you need to do. None of those things are more important than your relationships with God, your spouse, and the people you know.
Day 13 - Choose to Fellowship, Choose to Forgive