Summary: God wants you to enjoy relationships of oneness.
The Reconciliation Factor
During the month of August I dealt with the subject of unity, exploring what exactly unity is and how it applies to our various relationships with God, with our fellow church members, with our husbands or wives, and by inference every other kind of relationship you have. Hopefully you discovered that not only does God want you to enjoy relationships of oneness, He shows us how that is possible in His Word. Never does the Lord say that He wants something for our lives without carefully explaining how to make that thing a reality, and unity is one of those things.
However, as much as God desires unity in our lives, we know it will not always be so. You fight with your wives. You get exasperated at church members for various things. Sometimes you get downright enraged and you just can’t believe that someone could do that to you. Do you find yourself feeling irritated and irked? Maybe you get put out, steamed up, or ticked-off. Probably some of you go beyond that and get down right mad at other people. Well very often, we find ourselves at this end of the relational problem – that is – someone else wrongs you; but today I want us to deal with the other side of the problem – and that is when we wrong the other party.
Interpersonal problems between Christians are a serious matter and these problems must be solved. While all too often the relationships involved don’t seem very important to us, we forget that they are of utmost importance to God. Brothers and sisters, it is time we grew dissatisfied with our humanistic, fleshly thinking and see that God wants us to surrender all of our lives to Him, even when it is uncomfortable and even when it goes against everything we believe and feel.
One of the greatest difficulties between husbands and wives, parents and children, and various members of a congregation who have had poor interpersonal relations is the problem of loose ends. Loose ends are those interpersonal problems between Christians that remain unresolved. Now I’m not speaking this morning of the petty little annoyances and offenses that come our way from time to time. Solomon said, "Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers a multitude of sins." Not every little thing that rubs you wrong needs to be brought up and hammered out. Some things need to be allowed to die as we learn in love to forgive and move along.
However, Christ was not speaking of these kinds of things in our text today. Rather he is dealing with the case where a brother or sister knows there is a problem in a relationship that cannot be covered or forgotten, and in those situations, loose ends need to be tied up and taken care of. Unresolved problems sap the strength out of a relationship, out of any relationship. When problems go unresolved in a church, they grow and hinder the church’s effectiveness. They tear families apart and cause even more problems. There is therefore, no place for loose ends. God insists that every personal difficulty that arises be settled. Whatever comes between Christians must be removed. And, as we will see in our text this morning, God has provided a method by which this can be accomplished.
In Matthew 5:23-26, Jesus said,
"Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift. Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison. Verily I say unto thee, thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing."
Now before we consider the issue of reconciliation, think about Jesus’ audience and what He’s been saying so far. Back up in verse 1 we find that Jesus is addressing the multitudes in general, and the disciples specifically. The message is primarily a message for believers, those who claim to want to follow Christ. In this entire chapter, He makes clear this one thing – that if you’re going to follow Him, then He’s going to hold you to a higher standard. It’s not just wrong to murder someone, it’s wrong to hate him or her. It’s not just wrong to commit adultery, its wrong to look at someone with lust in your heart. Listen, let’s make it plain: We who are called the children of God ought to have higher standards than lost people. We ought to be more concerned about who we are and what we do and whom we represent. Our righteousness ought to exceed the righteousness of the lost, and it’s a crying shame that there are lost people out there today who are living better lives than many of God’s children. So, God is holding you to a higher standard.