‘First be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.’—Matt. V. 24.
TT is a strange gift that we have to bring,—so *? strange, that it is in one sense ‘nothing,’ and yet in another sense everything. He asks us for it, saying, ‘Give Me thine heart; ” and this heart of ours, this gift that we are to bring, worthless and yet priceless,* is one mass of sins and burdens.3 Jesus asks for it just as it is, with all the sins and all the burdens; and the moment it is given over to Him, the sins are cleansed and the burdens are borne for us.
Do you wish to come to Him with it, and yet find that there seems something preventing you from really doing so? If so, the verse at the head of this chapter may throw God’s light upon the secret obstacle. ‘Is there any secret thing with thee i ‘*
1 Prov. xxiii. 26. 2 Jer. xvii. 9.
3 Matt. XV. 19. 4 Job XV. ii.
Christ will either accept the gift altogether, or not at all.1 If there is something which you do not really mean to do right about,—some sin which you have no real intention of giving up,—it will be a fatal barrier. He forgives all or none. If you are but willing, His precious blood shall cleanse you from all sin.’ But He does not save by halves; and if there is a sin knowingly kept back, then ‘ ye are yet in your sins,” and ‘ thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter; for thy heart is not right in the sight of God.’*
This may seem a very stern way of putting it; but when such tremendous issues hang upon it, is it not folly to shrink from looking the matter straight in the face? The Lord says, ‘First be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.’
This may be literally your case. Some one may have somewhat against you,—an old quarrel, or a fresh misunderstanding,—and you are too proud to acknowledge your fault, or your share of it ;5 or you are too timid, or even too idle to do so. When there are faults on both sides, it is pretty often the one most in fault who is the least ready to forgive. Now do look into the matter, and see if you are truly6 ‘ in love and charity with all men.” It is no use trying to explain away your daily words, ‘Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us,’8 for Christ Himself has explained and emphasized them. He said, ‘But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.’ There is no evading this. There is absolutely no forgiveness for you, if you do not forgive; for ‘who can forgive sins but God only?”
1 Hos. X. 2. 2 I John i. 7. 3 i Cor. xv. 17; ib. iil. 3.
4 Acts viii. 21. 5 Jas. v. 16. 6 Heb. xii. 14, 15.
7 I John iii. 10, 15. 8 Malt. vi. 15.
And it is no use saying,’ Well, I will forgive, but I can’t forget!’ You know quite well in your heart that the very tone in which you say that, shows that you are not really forgiving, and God knows what is at the bottom of your ‘can’t forget!’
Don’t turn round fiercely, and say, ‘But if I can’t, I can’t!’ For ‘the things which are impossible with men, are possible with God.”
Read the 45th of Genesis, and see how Joseph forgave ;s and remember that the same Spirit of God which was in him is freely promised to you for the asking.
And then look at the still greater example of perfect forgiveness,—hear the smitten King in His lonely death-agony saying, ‘Father, forgive them ! ‘* ‘For He knew that forgiveness would raise them to the very level of His throne; so He must have literally loved His murderers with the love wherewith His Father loved Him. ‘5 Oh, it is hard to forgive anything, when one looks away to the forgiveness of Jesus.8
Then come and offer thy gift.
1 Mark ii. 7. 2 Luke xviii. 27. 3 Gen. xlv. 1-15.
4 Luke xxiii. 34. 5 John xvii. a6. 6 Eph. iv. 32.