I have hurt people.
There’s a way to start a blog post, right? Got your attention I’ll bet!
But here’s the thing…if I am going to be transparent with my life, I have to make an honest confession. And if you are transparent with yourself, my guess is that you have done the same. Maybe something that you’d like to take back – hit the undo button. Maybe did something that hurt another. In some way or another all of us have hurt someone else and we’ve had to go back and make amends. It’s painful, but necessary.
Just how necessary?
Well let’s take a look at what Jesus thought about it. Matthew records Jesus’ words. Jesus says,
“This is how I want you to conduct yourself in these matters.”
What matters? Well, matters where we have lost it and hurt someone. Jesus seems to describe these matters as carless harmful words spoken out of anger. Hmm…Yup, that’s me. Been there…Done that.
You? Take a minute. Think about it.
Back to Jesus.
“If you enter your place of worship and, about to make an offering, you suddenly remember a grudge a friend has against you, abandon your offering, leave immediately, go to this friend and make things right. “
There is a lot to unpack right there. More so than you might first think. Take another read through it again.
This was part of the temple worship for the Jews. They didn’t typically make offerings at the temple more than once or twice a year…many of them making a two or three day trip…by foot…with family.
Have you ever taken a road trip with family?
For a Jew, these words of Jesus’ would borderline the ridiculous! “I mean, Jesus, you can’t be serious! It took us two days…on foot…with kids…to get here! And I have waited in line for the last three hours to get to the altar and now you tell me I have to go back home and say I’m sorry.”
Jesus, com’on! Really?
Yup! Take a look at Jesus’ next words…
“Then and only then, come back and work things out with God.”
Matthew 5:23–24 The Message
I’d say Jesus is serious. But did you catch what other implication is there? The altar, offering, and the temple together in this context served one goal…the slaughtering of the sacrificial animal by the temple priest for sins. Jesus indicates something huge here! Before you can work things out with God, things have to be worked out with the hurt brother, sister, friend, parent, cousin, second cousin, neighbor down the street, fellow church member, the clerk at the grocery store.
You get the idea.
Before you can offer your sacrifice, before you can worship, before the priest can do anything, Jesus says this has to happen first. Seems this was awful important to Jesus.
Think it should be important to us? Yea…me too.
It brings a whole new texture to Jesus’ response to the lawyer when he asked him what was the greatest commandment. Remember his response? I’ll paraphrase.
Love God…Love others.
These two were not listed in order of priority. Actually they are equal. Don’t believe me, take a look at Jesus’ response to the lawyer
“And He said to him, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’” Matthew 22:37–39 NASB
The second is like it…as in equal to. Not second to.
In both passages, Jesus is intensely purposeful about how we are to respond to the other person. I guess he should be! I mean after all, they were created in God’s image just as you and I are. And how we love and treat others shows others God manifest in our own lives. And if we don’t love and don’t make amends…
What does that tell the other about God? Ouch. Yea. Hurt me too.
What’s all this mean? Well, I don’t know about you, but it means that I need to make some things right. Will it be painful? Probably. Is it worth it?
You tell me. Read Jesus’ words again.
“This is how I want you to conduct yourself in these matters. If you enter your place of worship and, about to make an offering, you suddenly remember a grudge a friend has against you, abandon your offering, leave immediately, go to this friend and make things right. Then and only then, come back and work things out with God.” Matthew 5:23–24 The Message
I’d say it’s not only worth it, but mandatory.