“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift." Matthew 5:23-24 NIV
“Reconciliation always brings springtime to the soul.” — Brother Roger
If reconciliation always brings springtime to the soul, then conflict must feel like a brutal polar vortex. Because of this, most people avoid conflict at any cost, and they nurse resentment, anger, and misunderstanding instead.
One of the highest challenges in human relationships is communication, and this may be because people are always communicating to avoid conflict. We understand why. We don’t want to get into the messiness of conflict, but avoiding that messiness leads us to avoid relationships themselves.
Emotions aren’t always able to be controlled and human language is fragile and fails to convey our hearts. However, Jesus was not afraid of conflict. In fact, Jesus encouraged it. For Him, conflict was not a negative experience. He saw it as a way of protecting one’s relationship with God.
The text shows us that you can let conflict find a lodging place in your heart and mind until it infects your worship. Jesus presses this issue so seriously that He equates it to the urgency people have about not committing murder. The Lord is extremely serious about how we deal with our anger.
We are to steward our human conflicts and take them seriously, because our anger parallels the intensity of murder. Jesus underlines this by saying, “I want you to leave your gift at the altar and go and be reconciled.” It was important to the offering to give with a reconciled heart.
Jesus wants us to make it a priority to live in reconciliation with the people in our lives. We need to apply attention and effort to handling conflict. We need to grip conflict and use it to protect our relationships with the people around us and God.
When we spend every day fighting and trying to live a life that is in line with God’s will, people will cause conflict in our lives, and we will cause conflict in theirs. It is just a part of being in relationship with people. So, we need to learn how to manage conflict, not avoid it. This is because it affects our worship and offering to Jesus.
God receives our offerings when we are in conflict with Him. He hears the prayers of the sinner. This is because He is the one who brings healing in our relationship with Him. However, when we have conflict with others, God makes it clear that we are the ones who need to bring healing in those relationships.
God doesn’t atone for our transgressions against each other. We have to do that and fight to build healthy relationships. When we stop seeing conflict like bondage and treat it like a measuring rod, we can then go from where we are to a place of maturation. We can use these moments to grow and to bring the Christ in us into those moments and into our lives.