Early in his life, George Washington was stationed at Alexandria with a regiment under his command. On one occasion, he became incensed about the outcome of an election that he made an offensive comment to a Mr. Payne. In response, Payne struck Washington with his cane knocking him to the ground. When Washington’s soldiers heard of the infraction they immediately started for the city to take revenge for their commander. Washington met them on the road and convinced them to return peaceably to their barracks.
Realizing that he was in the wrong for his hasty actions, Washington resolved to make honorable amends. The next morning Washington sent a polite note requesting Payne to meet him at the local tavern. Payne took the note as a challenge and went with the expectation of a duel. Upon arrival, he was surprised to find Washington sitting at the table, not with a pair of pistols but a decanter of wine on the table.
Washington stood, walked to meet his wouldbe opponent, and said, “Mr. Payne, to err is human but to correct our errors is always honorable. I was wrong yesterday. You have had, I think, some satisfaction, and if you deem that sufficient, here is my hand. Let us be friends.”
Payne was astonished and unable to resist Washington’s “olive branch.” From that moment, he became an enthusiastic friend and admirer of Washington. By ruling his spirit and subduing his anger, George Washington won perhaps his most glorious victory. Jesus instructed: “Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath aught against thee; Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift. Agree with thine adversary quickly, while thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison” (Mt. 5:23-25). Though we give great consideration to being reconciled to God, we often fail to weigh the great emphasis God places on being reconciled to our fellow man. One who has made peace with God through obedience to the gospel of Christ must also strive to maintain peace with his fellowman. Paul indicated this truth when he admonished: “See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men” (1 Thess 5:15). Peter also emphasized that our conduct toward others can hinder our approach to God (1 Pt. 3:8-12). The late J.W. McGarvey astutely noted:
“Reconciliation takes precedence of all other duties, even of offerings made to God. A very important teaching in these days, when men, by corrupt practices, by extortionate combinations, and by grinding the face of the poor, accumulate millions of dollars and then attempt to placate God by bestowing a little of their pocket change upon colleges and missionaries.”
Is there any of whom you are aware who have a grievance against you today? Are there any against whom you have a grievance that might hinder either your or their worshipful offerings to God? Why not reconcile and make peace.