“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.
“Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still together on the way, or your adversary may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison. Truly I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.
Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.
Jesus continues his thoughts concerning the importance of the inward condition of a person’s heart. In verses 21-22, He addresses the issue of hatred and how the consequences of this sin are no different than the consequences for the sin of murder. Now he shows how harboring hatred impacts our worship of God. Here Jesus is saying, if God will punish hatred, we cannot appropriately worship Him with grudges unsettled. In the Old Testament, the prophets made much of the futility of worship without a corresponding purity of life. Jesus puts this in very practical terms. If you have unresolved hatred or anger in your heart toward someone, “go and be reconciled” to that person before coming to worship the Father.
All sin negatively impacts the intimacy that we have with God the Father. It is hypocrisy to attempt to worship God with unconfessed sin in our hearts. It is futile to try and worship God when there is bitterness and hatred festering in our hearts toward another person. Notice that Jesus puts the responsibility for reconciliation on the shoulders of the worshipper. He says, “Go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.” Jesus follows this statement with, “Settle matters quickly…” Jesus knows that unchecked anger or hatred becomes the root for bitterness. Bitterness has the power to destroy one’s life and personal testimony for Christ.
We must worship the Father “in Spirit and in truth.” This means our hearts must be humble when we approach God’s throne of grace. God knows our hearts better than we do. Once again, we see the importance of the inner life and the posture of our hearts before God Almighty. Every time we approach the Lord, we should do a heart check. We should ask ourselves, “Is there anything in my heart that I need to acknowledge before I have this conversation with God? Am I harboring any ill feelings toward anybody else that will impact my intimacy with the Father?” If the answer is “yes,” take the initiative and be reconciled to your brother. Then you will be open to hear what the Spirit is saying to you.
This may mean that you will have to forgive someone or ask for their forgiveness. There is not enough time in this devotion to address this very important topic. Therefore, I would like to encourage you with the three Rs: Reveal your hurt, release your offender, and Refocus your life. Forgiveness is a process. The unwillingness to forgive someone might be the sin that is causing you to miss out on deeper intimacy with God! It also might be that the failure to ask for forgiveness (pride) might be the reason why your relationship with God is struggling. Remember, the onus is on us! Jesus said, “You go, and be reconciled to your brother.” Don’t wait for the other person to act. If you do, your worship of God will be impacted in a very negative way!
Questions to Ponder:
Are there any relationships in your life that need to be reconciled? Are you able to worship God freely? Are you able to quickly forgive others when they have hurt you? Are you struggling to experience intimacy in your walk with God? Do you take the initiative in reconciliation?
- Worship the Lord.
- Ask the Spirit of the Lord to reveal any unforgiveness, offense, hatred, or hurt toward others or them to you. Confess that to the Lord and ask Him the best way to approach those you need to reconcile with.
- Pray for the other person or group.
- Pray for strength to surrender any flesh “rights” or expectations how the other person will receive or respond.
- Pray for those who have wounded you in the past.
- Pray for our church family and greater one church. Ask God that forgiveness would be part of who we are.
Forgiving Father, thank You for having unlimited patience towards me and those whom have been created in Your image. Thank You for Your kindness, faithfulness, encouragement, mercy, love and grace. I confess I am incredibly blessed to be Yours Lord. Thank You for Your forgiveness, I have been forgiven much so Lord I will love much. Lead me into Your love today, especially when praying for my “enemies” and being in the midst of those I don’t necessarily want to “love.” Help me to be compelled by the love of Jesus Christ. Lead me out of the temptation of getting even or having hatred/murder in my heart. Uproot any bitterness or sinful thought and burn it with Your fiery love. Grant me compassion to swell up and overflowing from my heart and life so I can genuinely pray, “Mercy Lord! For they know not what they do.” I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.