Read Matthew 5:23-26
23-24 “This is how I want you to conduct yourself in these matters. If you enter your place of worship and, about to make an offering, you suddenly remember a grudge a friend has against you, abandon your offering, leave immediately, go to this friend and make things right. Then and only then, come back and work things out with God.
25-26 “Or say you’re out on the street and an old enemy accosts you. Don’t lose a minute. Make the first move; make things right with him. After all, if you leave the first move to him, knowing his track record, you’re likely to end up in court, maybe even jail. If that happens, you won’t get out without a stiff fine. (THE MESSAGE)
So what are we to do? We are at a church service and remember there is a broken relationship with someone. Are we to get up and go to that person and be reconciled and then return? Seems impractical, and it is. We may not be anywhere near the other person and that person may refuse our attempts at conciliation anyway. Not to mention the disruption to our services of worship!
This is one of those instances of Jesus using exaggeration to make a point. Don’t try to deny your problems with other people by immersing yourself in attempts to relate to God. Our relationship with others affects our relationship with God.
We might practically apply this by resolving to seek right relationship with others as soon as practicable following our church gathering. Or resolve to be taking good care of our interpersonal relationships even as we seek to relate to God. What we must not do is assume our public devotion to God somehow masks our dysfunctional relationships with others.
The second illustration clarifies this principle. Get things sorted out as a priority, otherwise things might get worse. Don’t let grudges or bitterness simmer. Of course we can’t guarantee reconciliation. It takes two to be reconciled, but it only takes one to make an offer. Jesus tells us to at least make the offer.