You are likely going to sin against your brothers and sisters at some point in your Christian walk – either intentionally or not. You will say something, do something, or be a part of something that will damage others in a way that will harm your relationship with them. These sins against others can range from major events, such as sexual infidelity in a marriage, to relatively minor events, such as revealing information that a friend wanted kept secret. There’s no way to categorize these kinds of things with precision because everyone is different in their sensitivity to slights, wrongs, or offenses, and there are far more wrongs that can be done than we can even imagine.
But one thing is rather precise, and that is that God expects us to live in a loving relationship with other Christians. 1 John 4:19-21 puts it in stark perspective. It’s there that we’re told that anyone who says he loves God but hates his brother is a liar. How can we love God who we’ve not seen, and not love our brother who we have seen? Anyone who loves God, must also love his brother. The bible is packed with verses that teach the same general thing. Another verse, Romans 12:18, tells us that we are to live peaceably with others as far as it depends on us. Paul’s teaching here is that we are to take great care to promote peace to the best of our own ability.
In fact, God is so serious about this particular idea that Jesus gives us another stark perspective. In Matthew 5:21-26, Jesus describes some actual serious sins in which one person might physically or verbally assault another person in anger. Flowing from that discussion, In Matthew 21:23-24, Jesus commands that if we are at the altar and we remember that we have sinned against a brother (or sister), then we are to stop our act of worship and go quickly to our brother (or sister) and be reconciled. Jesus is saying that in that moment, reconciliation with our brother or sister is more important than the worship! There’s an immediacy to the words of Jesus here. When you realize that your brother, sister, neighbor, or friend has something against you – that is when you have sinned against them – you are to immediately go to them and do your best to make things right. This means that you are not to wait on them to come to you, but rather you are to go to them. This is a spiritual act, and it will take supernatural resources to accomplish. But thank God, he’s given us those resources (2 Timothy 1:7, Philippians 4:13).