Jesus said, if you bring your gift to the altar and remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift at the altar; first be reconciled to your brother and then come and offer your gift.
This means that it would be better to be late for church than to come to church with outstanding offenses between you and a brother or sister. Sometimes conflict arises in the hustle and bustle to get out the door on Sunday morning: a short temper, a snappy response, a biting comment. Sometimes it happens in the car on the way to church. Jesus says that you must first make it right and then come for worship. And if you get all the way up here, and you realize things are not right with someone, you need to go find them first and then enter into worship.
In the Old Covenant, your gift was often an animal – an animal that got sacrificed. In the New Covenant, you are the gift. We offer our bodies as living sacrifices – this is our reasonable service in Christ. This is why we stop at the beginning of the service to confess our sins. Is there anything between you and your spouse? Anything between you and one of the kids? Anything between you and a roommate, your brother or sister, your parents, a friend, or someone else? If you’ve sinned against them, you must go make it right. If they sinned against you, do you have a grudge against them? Have you taken offense? You need to either drop it and let love cover the whole thing or you need to go talk to them and be reconciled. Sometimes you do your best and things are still a little off, but the principle is that as far as it depends upon you, be at peace with all men.
And Jesus says, do it now. Leave your gift at the altar. First go and be reconciled. Keep short accounts. Go make it right. Confess your sins. Forgive quickly. And then come and worship. Sometimes you may wonder why it’s so hard to worship, so hard to pay attention to the readings or the message, and sometimes this is the problem. Sometimes you need to first go and be reconciled and then come and worship.
Photo by Kira auf der Heide on Unsplash
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