Last year I was boiling over with anger towards someone. I had just been belittled again and was furious. The anger was growing so I had to go out into the pasture for an “angry walk.” All of a sudden Jesus spoke to me and it’s the very last thing I wanted to hear.
When Jesus delivered the Sermon on the Mountain everything that Jesus said was fodder for fiery discussion because the level of righteousness he spoke of was nothing less than audacious. Familiarity has lessened the shock impact for us but if we read slowly enough we can still feel some of it.
When there has been a wrongdoing the burden of apology and reconciliation is typically on the one who has done the wrong. If I speak a harsh word to someone and feel the conviction of the Spirit that I did wrong, then it is me that needs to go apologize. But in the kingdom of God everything is turned on its head.
“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the alter and there remember your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the alter. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift” (Mt 5:23-24).
At the alter of God it doesn’t matter who is at fault so much as it matters there is un-reconciled relationships. Worship desires unity. And so Jesus puts it this way: It’s not about if someone has wronged you, it’s about the fact that a relationship is broken and needs repaired. If you know that someone has something against you, you be the one to go to to them. Try to get it straightened out. Do so as an act of worship.
“As far as it depends on you live at peace with all men” (Rom 12:18).
So there I was angry walking around the pasture, feeling wronged in a very hurtful way for the umpteenth time. I was gnashing my teeth, seething with anger when the Lord spoke to me, “go and try to reconcile.”
That’s the last thing I wanted to do. This person was the one who was doing wrong to me constantly. Not just wrong but tampering with the holy. They needed to come to me, not me to them. Going to them would appear as if I was validating their behavior.
I fasted. I prayed. I went.
I did everything to try to reconcile including apologizing for things I wasn’t sorry for (I regret that now) in order to come together. There was not even a hint of desire on their part to reconcile. It was vicious. Just attack after attack. It was like going there gave them opportunity to unleash the flood. I was literally going out to the car with them yelling at me. It was awful.
And I drove away filled with joy.
For a few days after that I had such joy in the Lord. The joy that doesn’t make any sense but a joy that is tied to God’s pleasure when his children obey.
Things are still bad. I still wrestle with anger. The violations continue.
But I have never regretted going to them to make the attempt to reconcile.