THE WEEK OF TRINITY VI – THURSDAY
LESSON: MATTHEW 18:21-35
“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
There are two parties here. One has committed a wrong against another man; he must ask forgiveness. The other man has been wronged; he must offer forgiveness in a friendly and ready manner, even if he has not been requested to do this.
This is very hard for human nature. It is true, of course, that it does come along once in a while with a plea, saying, “Dear friend, forgive me!” But if it were not compelled to do so in fear of hell and God’s wrath, it would never do so. In any case, the old resentment still continues in the heart. On the other hand, the man who suffers the injury also finds it very difficult to forgive it in his heart. And just as the former man comes with a hypocritical plea, so he also offers a hypocritical forgiveness.
All this means nothing at all before God. “If you are offering your gift at the altar,” He says, “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.”
Reconciliation must come from the heart; forgiveness must come from the heart. Therefore, mark this text very well.
SL 11:1340 (13)
PRAYER: Awaken in us a loving spirit, O Lord, which is always ready to forgive and bring about reconciliation where hostility and strife have caused discord and grief. We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Editor’s note: No American Edition (AE) equivalent for today’s sermon excerpt exists at the time of this publication. For an alternate English translation of this sermon, see Lenker, Church Postil—Gospels, 4:167-178.