When Jesus affirmed the link between reconciliation and worship (Matthew 5:23-24), it is important to note the order in which reconciliation is to take place. He did not say “If you have something against your brother,” but rather “if your brother has something against you.” That places the responsibility squarely on each of us as individuals. We cannot wait for the person to come to us nor can we stand in self-righteousness that we did not do anything wrong. Once there is a breach in the relationship, we are instructed to take the initiative and go to them. Yes, it is not quite fair but we don’t get a vote.
Matthew Henry observes, “The case supposed is, ‘That thy brother have somewhat against thee,’ that thou has injured and offended him, either really or in his apprehension; if thou are the party offended, there needs not this delay; if thou have aught [anything] against thy brother, make short work of it; no more is to be done but to forgive him (Mark 11:25), and forgive the injury; but if the quarrel began on thy side, and the fault was either at first or afterwards thine, so that thy brother has a controversy with thee, go and be reconciled to him before thou offer thy gift at the altar, before thou approach solemnly to God in the gospel-services of prayer and praise, hearing the word or the sacraments.”
The direct link between reconciliation and worship also affirms that our relationship with God is partly contingent on how we treat others. According to the IPV New Testament Commentary Series in its commentary on the text, “Jesus indicates that when we damage our relationships with others, we damage our relationship with God, leading to eternal punishment. A man who beats his wife, a woman who continually ridicules her husband, and a thousand other concrete examples could illustrate the principle. We must profess our faith with our lives as well as with our lips.” In other words, our being reconciled to God is not complete and cannot be complete without our reconciling with those we have offended or who may have offended us.
Pope Paul VI was right when he said, “Reconciliation is not weakness or cowardice. It demands courage, mobility, generosity, sometimes heroism, an overcoming of oneself rather than of one’s adversary.” It is not an always an easy thing to humble oneself to take that first step, but we are left with no choice if we desire a right relationship with God and for our worship to be acceptable to Him. “So if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and while there you remember that your brother has something [such as a grievance or legitimate complaint] against you, leave your offering there at the altar and go. First make peace with your brother, and then come and present your offering” (AMP). Your move.