Matthew 5:23 – 26
Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. 25 Agree with your adversary quickly, while you are on the way with him, lest your adversary deliver you to the judge, the judge hand you over to the officer, and you be thrown into prison. 26 Assuredly, I say to you, you will by no means get out of there till you have paid the last penny.
The love of God is something more than a mere negative; it is a positive and active principle, a living spring, ever glowing to bless others. If the love of Christ dwells in us, we shall not only cherish no hatred toward our fellow man but we shall seek in every way to manifest love toward them.
For us living in the 21st century, this concept described in our four verses are difficult to comprehend. If you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First to be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. The natural question to ask is what gift and what altar. We are far removed from the sacrificial system and so its concepts and principles often leave us scratching our heads.
It is clear in our passage that the altar here mentioned is the altar of burnt offerings. It is here that the repentant sinner brought his offering before the Lord and received forgiveness for his sins. It is called a gift in this passage and other passages because the whole plan of salvation is a gift to mankind and they were signifying their acceptance of this gift when they brought their sacrifices to be offered before the Lord.
What Christ is saying in the beginning of this passage is when we have brought our sacrifice to the altar and remember that a person has a complaint against me. Go make amends. Show the person with the complaint mercy and understanding, by attempting to resolve the problem.
This is also taken a step further in that if I remember I have wronged another, go and make it right before them this thing you have done. But attempting to make correct the wrong you have done your part and you are again showing the same love toward them that Christ has shown to fallen mankind.
Today, we do not bring our sacrifices before an altar to be burned for the remission of our sins. But we do on bended knee pray to God seeking forgiveness us our sins. While we are upon our knees in prayer, should we remember some way we have offended or wounded another human being, we should leave our knees, seek out the one we have wronged asking their forgiveness. Upon making right that which we have done against our fellow mankind, then and only then should we return to our knees sacrificing self by submitting to the will of God and then confessing our sins before the creator of all mankind.
The last part of these four texts are good council for us today. The best way to describe this is to whenever possible to settle matters outside the courtroom. Do not allow yourself to be delivered to the judge and judge hand down a verdict that lands you in prison or paying a steep fine. Instead, by all means possible, seek to make right the wrong that has been done in such a way that you will lift up those you have offended and hurt and in this way you professing to be a Christian can show toward them the same spirit that Christ showed toward you.