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 ESV)
These words are in red. We know what that means, right? These are the words of Jesus and He has an important message for us this morning.
In this passage, He’s telling us that if we know someone has something against us, it’s more important to go and reconcile with that person than even to participate in a religious activity where we are offering a gift to God.
Why is this? Why would this be? After all, isn’t our praise and worship to God more important than anything?
Well, obviously, it’s important for us to genuinely want to offer our worship and praise to God. But in this case, what Jesus is telling us is central to our relationship with Him — and to others.
To follow Jesus Christ, we must forgive others. If we withhold forgiveness, we are expressing that we don’t truly understand the gospel and there are some serious eternal consequences for that. So when we reach out to others to help them experience forgiveness — even if it is to forgive us — we are helping to deliver the message of Jesus Christ.
And, obviously, when we go to others to bring reconciliation, they will probably bring up a bunch of things we did and we probably won’t agree with them and then we’ll get angry. Do you think that’s what Jesus is trying to dredge out when He encourages us to go to the offended party? It’s very possible that in our religious activity that we act like are “all good,” but really, we’re not. Ultimately, if we are also holding a grudge against the other person, we are called to release that grudge and extend forgiveness.
Finally, God doesn’t need our sacrifices. He likes them, if they are done with a right spirit, but He doesn’t need them. We could say that “God is all about relationships,” but I think what would be more accurate here is to say that if we bring a sacrifice to God, we are warned to come with a right heart. If not, we are better off to take care of the real problem — the problem that is affecting our heart — and then return with our sacrifice.
This passage is hard, but it cuts to the heart of the matter. There have been times — maybe fairly recently, where I failed to obey Jesus in this way. But regardless of what we’ve done in the past, let’s really think through this to make sure we are honoring Christ.
Let us consider these things today before we go worship Him.
“Sunday Worship” is a weekly series that can hopefully be used to help prepare our hearts to worship God Almighty. You can read all of the posts in this series by clicking here.