So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.
(Matthew 5:23-24 ESV)
John Piper, in a sermon, “Getting Right with God and Each Other,” says “human reconciliation is much harder than financial donation.”
So what does Jesus mean in Matthew 5:23–24? I think he means, “If you remember in this week that someone has something against you because you have wronged them, then as much as it depends on you, try to be reconciled.” Humble yourself. Reach out.
You can hear two qualifications of Jesus’ words that I see in the context.
- We are only responsible for what others hold against us when it is owing to real sin or blundering on our part.
- We are responsible to pursue reconciliation, but live with the pain if it does not succeed. In other words, we are not responsible to make reconciliation happen.
Paul says in Romans 12:18, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.” So far as it depends on you. Jesus took every step required of a human being to make matters right with his enemies (he never sinned), and still they had things against him and were not reconciled to him.