“So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.” (Matthew 5:23-24)
Sin is primarily a problem between God and man. But if we have wronged a fellow human, we need to get right with this person as well, if at all possible. The story about Zacchaeus is a good example here. He was a chief tax collector who was very rich and known as “a sinner”. But this man came to faith in Jesus and was saved. This led to a radical change in his life. He said: “The half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold” (Luke 19:8).
Once Zacchaeus’ relationship with God was restored, he realized that he had wronged his fellow citizens — probably by demanding too much tax. He wanted to set things straight.
In Matthew 5, Jesus says that we can’t worship God if we are consciously living in discord with a “brother”, meaning some person we know, not necessarily a family member. We need to be reconciled first, then come back to offer our gift to the Lord. This reconciliation will always involve a heartfelt apology, and if possible the restoration of what we have done wrong, as in the case of Zacchaeus.
Is there anybody who “has something against you” that you need to apologize for?