This post comes on the day of Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement. It’s always interesting how God orders things. Yom Kippur comes at the end of a 10-day period in which Jews seek forgiveness from others….in order that they may seek the face of God for the very same thing on Yom Kippur.
It seems a rough stone on the pathway to His inner courts. We want to step over this one, our bare feet choosing the smooth path, but the Spirit hovers here.
There is work to be done.
If only we would see that the hard things – the every day things we must walk through and face – are the preparations for His teachings on grace.
As we approach the altar of our good and holy God, Christ asks us to pause here:
“…if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.” Matthew 5:23-24
What heart does not need to stop and linger here? May we learn, together, and with great encouragement towards one another, what answered prayers, what healing, what restoration of the world awaits our practice of reconciliation.
In Proverbs 21 we are told that a gift given can soothe anger. Is Christ, in essence, stating above…”I do not need your sacrifices —–> but your brother does.”
We come and leave our gift for the Father, our most earnest hope, our boldest requests – sitting on this very step. We turn to do a work so that every prayer to follow is spoken with integrity.
“if you do not forgive men their sins, your father will not forgive your sins.” Mt. 6:15
Here we see that the horizontal always affects the vertical.
Yet we must look for wholeness in reconciliation, which always denotes a two-way healing. Leaving the altar of God to do work is not only a call to forgive, but actually a more specific call to ask for forgiveness.
“if your brother has something against you.”
What if we looked at all relationships as the preparation to be with the Father? How we love, how quickly we admit wrong, how we look upon others or release debts owed to us – affects the intimacy we will have with God.
Christ tells me – personally and through a burning heart – that to love Him I must love, wholeheartedly, my brother. To pray His kingdom down and practice the call to worship in spirit and in truth – I must invite His kingdom work first into my heart.
We all have deep, deep hurts. We have also caused some. What power, though, to know that healing is in our hands, if only. The action He calls for may seem, and be, quite heavy. But once practiced, I believe, they quickly release answers in the spiritual realm we may have been waiting for all our lives.
Forgiveness can be a process He takes you through over time. And others may need time to forgive you. That’s okay. But I must know I have said what needed to be said so that process can begin.
Two weeks ago, my words needed to be: “I love you.”
“In each prayer to the Father I must be able to say that I know of no one whom I do not heartily love.” – Andrew Murray
And for my personal work of forgiveness, I struggled with trust. How can I trust that person again? He whispered to my heart, “you don’t have to. You can trust me.”
What argument with a church member will we let affect our eternity? What resentment will we let hinder our physical healing? What fear is the ONLY thing between us and a miracle?
What words need to be spoken from our lips to another that our lips can speak more honestly and confidently to the Father? That we may sing with joy, “Come thou fount of every blessing…tune my heart to sing thy grace.”
Our hearts need tuning by the Maker that we can join in the chorus together and proclaim His grace to the world. A world that shouts loud with the message of ungrace.
Our hearts are tuned in the school of reconciliation. There we prepare to worship God in spirit and in truth. I don’t think we ever graduate from this school, but only move from class to class.
“Spirit, show me, show us what splinters remain beneath the surface. That you may draw them out with the needle of your love unto healing and deliverance. May you replace my hardened heart with one of flesh, worked over by the Great Surgeon of my soul. Have mercy. I choose to forgive what has been done unto me.”
In two days, we will consider uttering possibly the boldest prayer one can speak. This kind of boldness can only follow great humility. May we lower our faces to the ground and say,
“Oh Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner.”
This is Day 4 in a series on Prayer. You may begin here.