20161113_JLRussellBy Rev. J. Loren Russell, BA, MDiv.

Matthew 5:23-24, 46, 48

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…, 46 For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? 48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” (KJV)

To be reconciled to someone that you have been at odds with takes effort. Reconciliation means there has been a break in what was once joined together. There has been some level of conflict between one or more people. To reconcile is to bring the separated back into agreement with each other. Even in bookkeeping, a reconciliation must take place if the books are to balance.

In our human experience, conflicts occur between people when there are differences in their ideological, social, moral, theological or any number of other perspectives. Those conflicts must be reconciled and resolved or they could lead to loss of possessions, freedom, or even life.

In our text, Jesus tells His listeners to reconcile their disputes before they come to the alter to give their gifts. By implication, you cannot in good conscious give gifts when you have conflicts with others. It’s no different than when your check book in not reconciled. You know you’ve got money in the bank and some outstanding checks, but without a reconciliation, those checks may bounce and you’re never quite sure of your balance. When there’s no reconciliation between people, relationships could crash and conflict is often unavoidable. Those conflicts must be reconciled.

I’ve not said that it would be easy. But then again, if it were easy, anybody could do it! Jesus says it’s easy to love those who love you and to give to those who give to you. But when you give to those who spitefully use you, who speak evil of you, who mean you no good, those that you are in conflict with, you are showing perfect love. Loving perfectly is only available when there is reconciliation. First, we are to be reconciled or reunited to God through our relationship with Christ. This reconciliation repairs the break. Then, we can be reconciled one to another.

Where we have the ability, we should follow the example of Christ who was the initiator of our reconciliation with the Father. This reconciliation has equipped us to be reconciled with each other. We are to “first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.” We are to initiate reconciliation with those with whom we have conflicts. This is the blessing that makes us perfect even as our Father in heaven is perfect.

Be Blessed!

Rev. J. Loren Russell is an associate minister at both Goodwill and The Greater Universal Baptist Churches in the Bronx, President/CEO of The JLR Company for Church Financial & Strategic Consulting, and hosts “Matters of Faith – The Radio Show” on Soul 1 Radio on Mondays 8:00 – 10:00 PM. Listen in here or by phone at 626-226-1448. Be sure to friend “Matters of Faith” on Facebook, Twitter @jlorenr, and email us at

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