“So if you are presenting a sacrifice at the altar in the Temple and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you,24 leave your sacrifice there at the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God.” Matthew 5:23-24
I have read this bible scripture and heard countless messages on it but last night i noticed i have always misread/misunderstood it. I used to read the verse like this, “So if you are presenting a sacrifice at the altar in the Temple and you suddenly remember that you have something against someone….” This is totally different from what the bible verse means. Although there is nothing wrong in my initial thought, what the bible verse is saying is a lot deeper.
What He is saying here is that it isn’t enough for us to say “well i have nothing against him/her so i am free”. We need to pursue peace. We need to try as much as possible to ensure that the other party is OK too. I love Hebrews 12:14. It says;
“Work at living in peace with everyone, and work at living a holy life, for those who are not holy will not see the Lord.”
King James Version says follow peace. But i particular love how NLT puts it. Work at living in peace with everyone. Peace takes work. It takes our time, energy and resources. Most of the time, it will take us out of our comfort zone. Working at living in peace means we will have to take off our self righteous attitude and go seek for reconciliation.
But then is living at peace with everyone doable? We all assume it is until we meet that challenging people who enjoys strife and arguments. Some people just love disunity and they fight against reconciliation no matter what you do. Even if you apologies, visit, take people there to plead they still won’t budge. In this case, what do we do?
Paul gave us an advice on how to handle these scenarios.
“Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone”. Romans 12:18
The other party has a responsibility to make reconciliation work too. The hard bit though is ensuring our conscience bears witness that truly we have done all we could do. Sometimes we say we have tried when really we know we can do more but we just don’t want to because of our pride.
Jesus Christ’s sole purpose our earth was to bring about reconciliation. He came to reconcile us back to our father. Although we have been reconciled, we still have a part to play in sealing that deal and that is us accepting the reconciliation which Christ has offered us. In the same way, once we have done all that we can do to bring about peace, and the other party still does not want to accept reconciliation, we need to learn to move on with our lives. The question now is, how do we know when to move on?
- When you are being threatened. If each time you go there, you are being threatened, please it’s time to move on.
- When you have prayed and you have peace. Peace is always a sign (for me) that i am doing something right. If the Prince of Peace bears witness by making my heart still in situations like these, then i am good to move on.
- When kids are involved and their safety is no longer guaranteed.
- When an attempt for reconciliation results in you being exposed to more pain. For example, in a case of sexual molestation, it isn’t wise for you to go see your offender alone (if you are being led to do this). Reason being that you don’t want to expose yourself to another attack. Wisdom is profitable to direct.
I will like to end this by mentioning the power of prayer. Prayer changes things. It gives us perspective and softens our heart so we are able to come into alignment with God’s will. It opens up our ears to be able to hear what God is saying. It removes the veil covering our eyes and helps us to see things clearly. It exposes our hearts to us – something that is always a humbling experience. It helps us to have the mind of Christ. It is the fuel of our faith.
Trying to embark on a peace journey without prayer is like going for a harvest without the tools needed to harvest our crops. Prayer gives us the backing of heaven and enables us to have the boldness to do things that we ordinarily can’t do.
Seek peace. Do all you can to live in peace. Peacemakers are children of God.