Matt. 5:21-24 “You have heard that the law of Moses says, ‘Do not murder. If you commit murder, you are subject to judgment.’ But I say, if you are angry with someone, you are subject to judgment! If you call someone an idiot, you are in danger of being brought before the high council. And if you curse someone, you are in danger of the fires of hell. So if you are standing before the altar in the Temple, offering a sacrifice to God, and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, leave your sacrifice there beside the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God.”
The thought that really jumps out at me is that of being reconciled with others before we approach God in worship and prayer. There is no way that we can live at peace with everyone. There are simply some people who will refuse to let things go and live in peace. The Lord is not saying that we must first resolve all human conflict before we can approach Him. What He is saying is that we must not harbor anger or sinful thoughts towards others in our hearts. We must be willing to let go of the hurts others have caused us and forgive them without reservation. We can’t control the emotions or thoughts of others, but we can control our own. God will not let us draw near to Him if we bring sinful thoughts or emotions with us. We must first approach Him by way of the cross and seek the forgiveness of Christ. Also, if the problem is us, we must not only ask the Lord to forgive us, we must go to the person we have hurt and seek their forgiveness.
One of the reasons why so many prayers go unanswered and peace eludes us is that we don’t obey the Lord in this. The Lord expects his children to get along. If they have personality clashes, they must learn how to live with each other in a civil and God-honoring way. We may not be the best of friends with everyone, but in Christ we are kinfolk. We must learn the language of love. We must not let our differences alienate us and keep us from sharing the love of Christ together.
Like any good parent, God will not tolerate uncivil behavior amongst His children. They must learn how to iron out their differences and live in peace with one another.