My Side of the Street
If you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Matthew 5:23-24
Several years ago, prior to my recovery, an acquaintance did something (I’ll remain purposefully vague) to greatly upset me. I didn’t handle it well. I got angry and ranted evil words about this person to anyone who would listen. I fumed and laid awake at night, wringing my hands in wrath. During that time, my mind was consumed with resentment. I just couldn’t stop thinking about it.
Eventually (after several weeks) I calmed down and moved on, but I certainly wasn’t willing to make any attempt at reconciliation. I just walked away and put it behind me . . . so I thought. Several years later, in my sobriety, the issue resurfaced for both of us. In the end, I apologized for my destructive, angry behavior and we were reconciled.
In today’s passage, Jesus spoke to this type of situation, in which my brother has some complaint against me. The passage suggests that I’ve done something to contribute to this conflict and Christ insisted that while I’m maintaining my part of the quarrel, I inherently distance myself from God. I may think I’m justified, but justifying evil behavior never brings me closer to God, faith, or recovery.
While I was consumed with resentment, I had little ability to live by faith. I simply expended too much time on evil, hateful thoughts to spend any energy seeking God. This was Jesus point. While inappropriately contributing to a conflict with anyone, I cannot live at peace with God.
It may be that the other person is unaware of how we feel, or it may be that they remain unwilling to consider reconciliation. We aren’t responsible for the response or behavior of anyone elses. We’re only accountable for our side of the street.
If we desire to live the life of faith and recovery, then we must abandon our resentments, anger, pride, and our need to be right. If we want to live in reconciliation to God, then we must do what it takes to keep our side of the street clean, living in reconciliation with our brother as well.