…leave your sacrifice there at the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God. Matthew 5:24 (New Living Translation)
We are fallen people living in a fallen world. That’s not an excuse. We need to become more and more and more like Jesus. But there may be times when we have sinned against someone else and we need to make it right.
The rabbis taught that the sin against someone else was heavier than the sin against God, because God would always forgive, but someone else may not.
“So if you are presenting a sacrifice at the altar in the Temple and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, leave your sacrifice there at the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God. When you are on the way to court with your adversary, settle your differences quickly. Otherwise, your accuser may hand you over to the judge, who will hand you over to an officer, and you will be thrown into prison. And if that happens, you surely won’t be free again until you have paid the last penny. (New Living Translation)
There are a couple of things I’ll point out right away. It’s the one bringing the sacrifice that remembers someone has something against him or her. It’s the Holy Spirit that brings it to their mind. It’s the Spirit’s job to convict sin, not any of ours. Jesus Christ didn’t come into the world to condemn it, so how can we condemn a fellow believer (or the world for that matter)?
Neil T. Anderson gives the following advice in “Steps to Freedom in Christ“:
Only the actions, which have hurt another person, need to be confessed to them. If you have had jealous, lustful or angry thoughts toward another, and they don’t know about it, these are to be confessed to God alone. An exception to this principle occurs when restitution needs to be made. If you stole or broke something, damaged someone’s reputation, and so on, you need to go to that person and make it right, even if he or she is unaware of what you did.
1. Write out what you did wrong and why you did it.
2. Make sure you have already forgiven the person for whatever he or she may have done to you.
3. Think through exactly how you will ask him or her to forgive you. Be sure to
a. Label your action as wrong.
b. Be specific and admit what you did.
c. Make no defenses or excuses.
d. Do not blame the other person, and do not expect or demand that he or she ask for your forgiveness.
e. Your confession should lead to the direct question: “Will you forgive me?”
4. Seek the right place and the right time to approach the offended person.
5. Ask for forgiveness in person from anyone with whom you can talk face-to-face with the following exception: Do not go alone when your safety might be in danger.
6. Except where no other means of communication is possible, do not write a letter because a letter can be very easily misread or misunderstood; a letter can be read by the wrong people (those having nothing to do with the offense or the confession); a letter can be kept when it should have been destroyed.
Now remember what I said about Rabbi Paul? Here’s where his teaching comes in. Once you sincerely seek forgiveness, you are free-whether the other person forgives you or not. Paul wrote in Romans 12:18:
Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.(New Living Translation)
So once you’ve sincerely sought forgiveness, you are free. So be sure to do what Jesus said in Matthew 5:24:
…leave your sacrifice there at the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God. (New Living Translation)
Asking forgiveness from someone we’ve wronged can be a very difficult thing to do. But now that you know the truth, remember the whole truth – God has not only told you to do it, He’ll empower you to do it. It may be good to discuss these thoughts with your pastor if you need some support in doing what the Bible instructs you.
We’re praying for you.
Lord, thank You once again for forgiving me of all my sins. Thank You for cleansing me and making me a minister of reconciliation. If I have sinned against someone I need to ask forgiveness from, bring him or her to my memory and make it possible for me to seek reconciliation. Holy Spirit, help me do what pleases the Father.
Is there someone you need to ask forgiveness from? Ask the Holy Spirit to remind you of anyone you may not be in right relationship with. Wait in His presence and expect Him to speak. When images or thoughts go through your mind, confess them to God if you need to, and seek the forgiveness of others if you must.
I choose to forgive everyone who has wronged me. I choose to seek the forgiveness of those I have wronged. I choose to accept I have been forgiven of my confessed sin. I choose to walk in the freedom forgiveness brings.
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Thanks for helping others live life above the negativity!