I need you to allow me a little freedom this morning in interpreting a very well-known and “clearly” understood scripture regarding our giving to the Lord. It’s not some new revelation of the truth but rather just an expansion in thinking.
Matt 5:23-24 Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and their rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; 24 Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.
Clearly this speaks to a situation in which you have “offended” someone and they are holding that against you. The Lord makes it clear that you need to take care of that before you bring your gift to Him. But I got to thinking about how that also has a direct impact on another person… our self.
We so often talk about clearing things up with the Lord before we take communion in order to truly remember and honor Him without being burdened by un-confused sin. It seems to me that that is applicable here as well. What if the person that has “ought” against us is our self? What if we are carrying around some un-confessed sin or we have been allowing the enemy to drag up some old forgiven sin and throw it in our face? Could it be that Jesus is also reminding us that holding something against ourselves is no different from a brother doing likewise? Think of it this way. Have we allowed the enemy to continually hound us with respect to something in our past that we have taken before the Lord previously? Do we find ourselves continually struggling with that old issue, even though we have stood on the promise of 1 John 1:9?
I have been there and I am very sure that you have as well. The enemy knows just what to bring up before us in an attempt to get us to focus on our failure and not on God’s grace. In reading this scripture again I thought about the fact that I can be the very one who has “ought” against me. Harboring guilt that is hindering my relationship with Jesus.
Here’s the point. Not being able to forgive myself for something in my past is really no different from not addressing something that someone else has against me. In either case it is impacting my relationship with Jesus and my ability to “freely give” of my money or myself to Him. It is a wedge that Satan has put in the doorway that keeps us from closing the door. I think that Jesus is also telling us here that we need to forgive ourselves once and for all by his mercy and grace…
1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
It seems that it is harder to forgive ourselves than it is to forgive others. And that’s what the enemy uses against us, keeping us self-focused and not God-focused. Jesus has made is clear in this example that when the Holy Spirit reminds us that we are holding something against ourselves we need to deal with it according to His promise before we offer up our gift. We need to kick the doorstop out-of-the-way and close the door on that voice that keeps condemning us for something in our past that the Lord has already forgiven. Then our gift can be given freely in joy without any guilt, no matter where it comes from.