Day 20. Restoring Broken Fellowship
23 So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift. Matthew 5:23-24
A story: In a conversation in my prior business, I made a comment about a coworker that was construed to be critical and by the object of my comments to be untrue. It had been offhand and certainly not intended to be damaging, but it was taken as such. We were both executives in a Fortune 500 company, a highly competitive environment. I received a phone call from Bill that caught me off guard in which he expressed his displeasure in no uncertain terms. I was bothered to no end. The fact that I would say anything behind someone’s back was once in a blue moon and I had never in 30 years been called on it.
Three days later I picked up the phone, called Bill and apologized. It was a truly cleansing act. Bill and I worked together for another seven or eight years as friends. It was never mentioned again. We often disagreed, but that act of repentance, apology and acceptance defined our relationship for those years.
A few lessons: If in doubt about the offense or even if there was one, read Matthew 5:23-24. It doesn’t matter. It’s “if your brother or sister have something against you,” right or wrong. Second, had Bill not confronted me, he might have smoldered all those years and our relationship would have been damaged and I wouldn’t have known why. I don’t like confrontation, but it taught me how important clearing the air really is. Third, whether I thought I had been offensive or not, it was important to get to the heart of the matter. And it was no time to equivocate. Repentance, contrition, apology were the only right things to do. Besides, how else could I return to the altar? (“Against you, you only do I sin..” Psalm 51.4)
It is a lesson that has lasted a lifetime and for me has elevated the importance of this simple Scriptural truth. God considers relationships of the utmost importance. If it is important in the corporate world, how much more important must it be in the fellowship of believers?
So be it.