Today’s Scripture – September 3, 2016

Matthew 5:23-24 (NIV) “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar.  First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.”

Put in simplest terms, God will not accept an offering from someone who is at odds with their brother or sister in the kingdom of God.  It would be just as productive for that person, someone who considers their brother or sister worthless or a fool, or who harbors anger in their heart against them, to not make the sacrifice at all.  It will do absolutely nothing for them as long as their relationship is tainted, an attitude that betrays a heart vastly unlike God’s.

The better way is to go and be reconciled.  And we should never wait until the other person makes the first move.  If I know in my heart that there are hard feelings between me and another, that puts the burden on me, as a member of the kingdom of God, to take the first step in setting things right, no matter who I feel to be at fault.

Having a heart clear of anger, offense, and disdain of others is so vital that, even if I am in the middle of a worship service, even if I am fulfilling a commitment that I have made to God, He wants me to stop right then, to go to the person I have a strained relationship with, and make things right.  After I have sincerely done all that I need to do to make things right (the other person may or may not accept my overtures and apologies – if they don’t, then I need to keep working at it later on), then I can focus my praise, my worship, and my service to God, and they will be accepted.

We must never pooh-pooh the powerful impact disharmony with our brothers and sisters in Christ has on our prayers, and on our relationship with God.  Jesus prayed that we, the people of God’s kingdom, would be one, just as all of the persons of the Godhead are one (John 17:21), so that all of us can have an unbroken unity with Him.  This twofold unity, unity with each other and unity with God, lies at the core of the power that the Church may have, individually and collectively.  A lack of unity with each other will result in a lack of unity with God.  And a lack of unity with God will cut us off from the source of the power that we want and need to do the work of the kingdom.

Father, it is very easy to discount our conflicts with others, and to fail to see the very real consequences that lack of unity has on our power as Your people.  Open our eyes today, Lord, to see those places that are broken between us and a brother or sister.  Then help us to take the first steps to repair those rifts, no matter who we perceive as being at fault, so that our worship and service will be acceptable to You, and so that Your power can work in and through us.  Amen.

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