Jesus tells us that we should leave our gift at the altar if we remember, when we get there, that our brother or sister has something against us. He doesn’t say that every time we come to the altar we should begin, with a morbid sensitivity, to dredge up thoughts of possible problems with our brother or sister. “If you . . . remember” means “If the Spirit of God brings something to your conscious mind.” The Holy Spirit makes us sensitive to things we never thought of before. Never object to the intense sensitivity of the Spirit of God in you when he is educating you down to the scruple.

“First go and be reconciled to them” (Matthew 5:24). Our Lord’s command is simple: go back the way you came; go the way the Spirit of God indicates to you when you are at the altar; go to the person who has something against you, keeping an attitude of mind and a temper of soul that make reconciliation as natural as breathing. Jesus doesn’t mention the other person. He says, “You go.” There’s no question of your rights. The hallmark of the disciple is the ability to waive personal rights and obey the Lord Jesus.

“Then come and offer your gift” (v. 24). The process is clearly marked. First, you arrive at the altar in a heroic spirit of self-sacrifice. Then comes a sudden inspection by the Holy Spirit, followed by the sense of conviction that stops you in your tracks. You go back, tracing the way of obedience to the word of God and constructing an unblamable attitude of mind and temper toward the one you’ve wronged. Finally, you return to the altar, ready to make a glad, simple, unhindered offering of your gift to God.

Wisdom from Oswald

There is nothing, naturally speaking, that makes us lose heart quicker than decay—the decay of bodily beauty, of natural life, of friendship, of associations, all these things make a man lose heart; but Paul says when we are trusting in Jesus Christ these things do not find us discouraged, light comes through them.  The Place of Help, 1032 L