Thursday, October 10, 2013

Leaving Your Offering at the Altar?

Jesus made a profound statement that most of us have overlooked.  He said, “Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering” (Matt. 5:23-24). Jesus is saying that a wrong horizontal relationship with man will block our vertical relationship with God.

Imagine a man taking his lamb to the temple to sacrifice as an act of worship. As he is about to hand his animal to the priest to place it on the altar, a thought pops into his mind. The worshipper remembers a disagreement he had with someone. His enemy stole some money from him, but he reacted in the wrong way by calling him hateful names. He realizes that he must forgive his enemy for wronging him, but he also needs to ask forgiveness for his hateful response.

Jesus tells him to leave his offering at the altar. Leave it there while he takes care of some business. There’s nothing wrong with the offering, so there’s no need to take it away. The offering is acceptable, but the worshipper’s attitude isn’t, and God is looking at his heart. This passage reveals that the Lord is aware of what we are offering Him, along with the attitude in our hearts, and also the personal conflicts we are experiencing.

The worshipper leaves his offering and walks three miles to where his enemy lives. He asks forgiveness for calling him those names and forgives him for stealing from him. His enemy returns the money, accepts his apology and they are reconciled, so he returns to the temple and finishes presenting his offering to God.

But suppose his enemy doesn’t want to be reconciled. Instead of being receptive, his enemy curses him out and slams the door in his face. What is the worshipper to do? God accepts that fact that he did everything in his power to resolve the difference. Perhaps his enemy will change his mind later and get right with him and God. The worshipper can now return to the altar with a clear conscience, knowing he did what Christ has asked of him.

Romans 12:18 says, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men” Notice 3 things:
·         “If possible.” This implies that the other person may not want to be reconciled. But it also means that resolving the conflict might be possible.
·         So far as it depends on you.” This puts the burden of peace-making on you. It will require humility on your part because pride wants the other person to come to you. Quit waiting for the other person to make the first move. You take the initiative and start the process.
·         “Be at peace with all men.” Conflict creates friction, but reconciliation brings peace.

If you will make the first move, you will find that God will also make a move by blessing you! He will always bless the one who takes the initiative in peacemaking.

Visit Kent’s New Bible Teaching website:

Are you worried about the future?  Read The Sure Cure for Worry
Do you want to defeat depression, unforgiveness, and rejection?  Read Slaying Your Giants