Daily Success
Institute in Basic Life Principles

Command 6 : Be Reconciled | Day 36

Put Out Fires!

When we offend others, or when they perceive that we have wronged them, a destructive fire is kindled in them. The heat of their anger feeds the fire. The longer we allow it to burn, the more damage it will do in their lives and in the lives of others to whom the fire spreads. Because of this, God commands:

Command Six: “If thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath aught 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).

This is an amazing command! God is so concerned about reconciliation that He wants us to interrupt our worship of Him in order to restore fellowship with an offended brother. Actually, reconciliation is true worship, because whatever we do to others, we do to Christ. (See Matthew 25:40.)

There is another reason why this command is so vital. Jesus introduces it with the warning that if we attack a person's character by calling him a fool, we will be in danger of hell fire. This is certainly not referring to eternal hell, because we do not go to hell for calling a person a fool but for rejecting the redemptive work of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The word hell in this passage is the Greek word geenna. Hell is the place of future punishment called "Gehenna" or "Gehenna of fire." This originally referred to the valley of Hinnom, south of Jerusalem, where the filth and dead animals of the city were cast out and burned. Spiritually, it is a symbol of the state of torment that will be suffered by those who are condemned to hell. James used the same word when he explained that the "tongue is a fire ... set on fire of hell" (James 3:6). Fires spread quickly and can turn into disastrous infernos. Therefore, as soon as a fire is detected, every effort should be made to put it out.

The altar was a place for burning sacrifices as a sweet savor to God. Reconciliation is putting out the stench of bitter fires so God can enjoy the aroma of our worship.

By not seeking to make things right, how many fires have we left burning in the hearts of those whom we have offended? Family feuds often begin with one offense, last for generations, and affect hundreds of people. As we meditate on the command to be reconciled, we can expect God to bring to our remembrance those who are holding things against us. As He does, let's purpose to go and make things right as an expression of our worship to the Lord.

“... First be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift” (Matthew 5:23-24).

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Contributing writer: Bill Gothard