So 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. Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison. Truly, I say to you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny (ESV).
My struggle? Exactly when do I have to make amends? If I want to avoid “prison,” when do I actually have to let someone know I was wrong, apologize and make amends?
Lately, however, I have had a completely different approach. I have realized my past struggle had everything out of whack. I was looking for a line to be good enough to get into heaven because I achieved some kind of good enough checklist obedience to this apology clause in God’s constitution. Therefore, I never drew the line at the right place.
Why do I need to make amends like this? Not because there is some kind of law that says in certain cases God requires I go apologize and make amends. Rather, because in my heart, I know when I have done wrong. That establishes a discordant cycle of guilt. Even if someone else has wronged me, when I have done wrong, I feel it. Something has to be done with that guilt. It won’t just sit there long. It starts to eat at me. It produces shame, the feeling that says not only did I do something wrong but I keep doing things wrong because something is wrong with me. Then I start giving up.
Or the guilt takes me another direction. If I don’t deal with the guilt God’s way by making amends and seeking reconciliation, Satan convinces me to deal with it his way. As with Eve, he convinces me if I eat some of the forbidden fruit, I will feel better. I will have internal peace and contentment. To escape the guilt, shame and pain of the past wrong, I end up sinning more. Of course, that only produces more of the same discordant guilt.
I break this cycle by not worrying about if God has absolutely required I make this particular amends and just make the amends. When I admit my wrong, apologize and ask for forgiveness, it releases the guilt. It allows me to connect with other people and it sets me free to reconnect with God.
Do you absolutely have to make that amends in order to dot all the i’s and cross all the t’s and obey enough to get into heaven? Does it matter? Just make the amends anyway. I know this, you’ll certainly be right with God if you take that approach.
May God richly bless you as you draw closer to Him.
More importantly, may you richly bless God.