Mark Dohle is a blogger who left me with a question, his answer and some continued thoughts:
What happens to our hearts when we mock, gossip and belittle others? It is a self inflicted wound that will only bleed and become more infected until the time we seek forgiveness and mercy for the damage done.It’s not just forgiveness for what we said or done that makes us uncomfortable, it’s understanding that we’ve wounded people with our words or deeds and we need forgiveness for those wounds. Without that understanding, we’re simply wanting forgiveness from God for our own good without seeing the wounds that need healing.
Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift. (Matthew 5:23-24 KJV)
When we come to our Lord with our gifts is when we’re most apt to remember our failures. Here brotherhood goes much beyond our siblings to include our fellowman. We have inflicted wounds.
Note that we’re not to remove our gift from the altar. I see good reasons for leaving it. It was ours, and is no longer – we gave it to God when we took it to the altar, just as we gave ourselves when we made our profession of faith. To take it away is tantamount to removing it from God’s presence. That we do not wish to do. Leave our gift, but go to do what must be done.
Be reconciled. Not an ongoing process, but an active command, an accomplished act to be done first. That’s often much more difficult than it sounds. Especially if the other person has no desire to be reconciled. Often it’s more than a one trip, one effort. The gift remains in God’s hands, but we must return to make the offering complete.
These simple verses are part of what Matthew wrote of Christ’s Sermon on the Mount:
And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him: (Matthew 5:1 KJV)
I wish there was more description. I can visualize Jesus walking upwards, seating Himself and His disciples gathering around. Did the multitude gather, too? Were they close enough to hear this teaching? It really doesn’t matter, for it was given to His followers, and that’s what I’ve chosen to be – so the message is for me. For sharing, too, as God inspired Matthew to do.
So, how do I apply this lesson to my life? Remember my gifts to God, but also be aware of wounding people in my life. I must recognize when I fail to be the person I’ve committed to God that I am. It’s up to me, not God, to request forgiveness and redress wounding I’ve done. Or, perceived wrongs done to me.
How can I request forgiveness from perfection if I’m not willing to forgive?
For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. (Matthew 7:2 KJV)
Why forgive? Because of God’s love:
But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8 KJV)
Heal wounds, even self-inflicted ones.