“Leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift” (Matthew 5:24, NIV).
Relationships matter to God, so much so that He tells us in Matthew 5:24 that He is willing to put a hold on the sacrifice that you are offering Him so you can first reconcile with whoever you are in discord with. Why? Because we cannot go into the presence of God while holding on to a grudge, bitterness and unforgiveness. All of this contaminates our relationship with the Lord and blocks our blessings. And, according to Mark 11:25, it can also hinder our prayers: “And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins” (NIV).
Forgiveness doesn’t excuse or deny that something occurred; forgiveness simply means that you choose to cancel someone else’s debt, much like Jesus cancelled our debts when He shed His blood on the cross for us. He didn’t ask questions, He just forgave. Holding on to bitterness and unforgiveness is much like drinking poison and hoping it contaminates the other person—it doesn’t work that way. It affects you, not them.
Jesus spent a great deal of time talking about the importance of forgiving others. He made it clear that forgiveness is to be a characteristic of His followers and something we should do on a daily basis. How many times shall I forgive you may ask? Until seventy times seven—that is, so long as it shall be needed (Matthew 18:22).
It is always in our own best interest to forgive, because we are the ones God is trying to protect, and we are the ones who receive the most benefit. So make a decision this New Year that you will leave the baggage behind. Just let it go. Decide that you will not allow the poison of unforgiveness or bitterness to complicate or compromise your daily walk with God.
Prayer: Dear heavenly Father, I refuse to allow anything to hinder my walk with You; therefore, today I come before Your presence, Lord, asking that You help me to forgive others just as You forgive me my daily shortcomings. Thank You Jesus because through You I can do all things. Amen!