“. . . if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering. Make friends quickly with your opponent at law while you are with him on the way, so that your opponent may not hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the officer, and you be thrown into prison. Truly I say to you, you will not come out of there until you have paid up the last cent.” – Matthew 5:23 – 26 (New American Standard Bible)
“If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every fact may be confirmed. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.” – Matthew 18:15 – 17 (New American Standard Bible)
Jesus teaches us that resolving our differences with others must take high priority.
The Jewish people regarded sacrifice as the highest expression of worship. Yet Jesus showed that being right with a brother takes precedence. If reconciliation does not occur, any expression of worship is vain and useless. A heart that is not right with a brother is not right with God (I John 2:11; 4:20).
Christ uses the example that if one owes another, it is better to settle the debt before the debtor can take him to court (even if one has to do so on the way to court). Initiative, humility and accountability are vital. Someone has said that two Christians who are in dispute should run into each other on their way to settle the matter.
When there is a dispute and a need for reconciliation, there needs to be a sense of urgency. In Biblical times, if one did not settle his debt, he could be imprisoned until his debt was paid. However, it was likely he would never be released because he couldn’t earn any money to pay his debt in prison. If we fail to settle our differences, we can become so estranged and so hardened – we cannot resolve the matter.
We should also repent and seek our brother’s forgiveness (and God’s forgiveness) because God’s grace is not limitless. We don’t know the length of the opportunity to correct the situation. And we don’t know where death is.