At the Altar of Silence
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. (Matthew 5:23-24).
Gifts, or sacrifices, were a common form of communication to God in the time of Christ and before His coming. Depending on the type of animal one brought and how it was sacrificed, a myriad of messages could be communicated to the Almighty. However, Christ intimates in the scriptures above that the lines of communication remain closed as long as conflict remains.
Typically, we don't talk to people when they have wronged us. However, Christ shows us that God won't talk to us if we have wronged others. Remember, though, we are all the children of God. As such, He looks out for us as His own. God won't receive a gift from someone who causes conflicts among his brethren and that includes having one of the types of anger we talked about on Monday.
In Christ's day, if you couldn't sacrifice you couldn't have your sins rolled back, you couldn't expect blessings and you couldn't guarantee the covering of His protection. Today, if we try to pray to God while having feelings of anger between us and another, God won't hear us when we pray to Him. The communication lines will go down. Repentance won't be heard (Matthew 6:15). Because to hold a grudge is to have sin, supplications won't be considered and offerings of praise and worship will fall on deaf ears (John 9:31). We might as well not exist as long as we harbor unfounded ill will in our lives.
Making It Right
The term reconciled basically means to make up and be friends again. After we have a fight with a friend, one of the best feelings in the world is when we come back together and set aside our differences. One of the amazing things that happens when two friends make up is that both parties typically start apologizing (even the party that wasn't the aggressor). It turns out, that harboring ill feelings towards the victim has caused them to do the same towards the aggressor. Another great thing that happens is that typically they set aside their differences and get back on the road to being friends immediately.
I remember when I first learned to drive (many moons ago). My brother let me drive his car all the way from Lake Charles back to our home in Oakdale, a nearly 1 1/2 hour drive. I was so excited to get to drive a long distance as I had only ever gotten to drive to school and back, a grand total of 5 minutes. I remember trying to merge on the interstate and my brother freaked out on me. He yelled that I almost hit a car (which was true. They were in my blind spot). His initial reaction may have been justified, but I was young and embarrassed. So, I did what an embarrassed teenager does. I yelled back at him and told him he was an idiot and I totally saw the other car. He just needed to back off.
We sat in silent for an hour. I fumed at the thought of him barking orders at me. I'm sure he was angry too. After all, he was trying to keep us alive and he GAVE me the opportunity to drive. I should be grateful and accept his guidance no matter the volume with which he delivered it. Around the time we got to Kinder, I realized that my anger was completely unfounded and I didn't want to hold onto that grudge. I even repented silently towards God for letting my anger get the best of me. Then, I said I was sorry and he immediately apologized, too. That totally blew me away and I felt such a great relief wash over me like cool water being poured over my overly hot head. We resumed our conversation from before (probably LSU football) as though nothing had happened. It was easy and it opened up the lines of communication once more.
Be the Bigger Person
We may have some grudges still hanging out there and we may be able to find justification for them. However, we won't be able to feel comfortable talking with those people or God if we don't make it right. It'll just feel awkward trying to talk to God about holy and righteous things when their is bitterness and resentment in our hearts. We must go to the person who we either feel has wronged us or who we have wronged and do what we can to reconcile ourselves to them. More often than not, a simple apology is all that is needed. All we need to do to deliver that is decide to be the bigger person.
So that's step one to getting over anger. However, what if someone comes up to you and demands you repay them for your misdeeds of anger? Find out the answer to this on Friday. You'll also get an opportunity to do a challenge that will help with seeking out the best path to reconciliation with those we've wronged on Thursday on ACCESS. Until then, God Bless and keep searching.
Chris Farris is the author of The Way, a manual detailing how to implement the Beatitudes into your life. He review events and other media and offers other insights into writing and working for the Kingdom of God.