“So if you are offering your gift on the altar, and there you remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled with your brother, and then come and offer your gift” (Matthew 5:23-24, HCSB).
In this verse from the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus confronts His listeners with a really radical view about worshiping God.
In fact, His listeners probably asked themselves, what does the first have to do with the second? What does “offering your gift on the altar” have to do with “be reconciled with your brother?”
We know, of course, that in God’s Kingdom the latter has everything to do with the former. You can’t truly worship God when you’re carrying around a grudge for another person.
Loving God is all about loving people.
But even with the Sermon on the Mount to guide us, we sometimes still compartmentalize our religion.
We tend to want to practice our religion at church but not necessarily at home, at work, and certainly not in our relationships with other people–especially when they don’t like us or we don’t like them!
But Jesus said that our religion is a heart thing; therefore, we can’t put it away somewhere on Sunday evening and then take it back out the next Sunday morning.
When God’s Spirit indwells you, it’s comprehensive! The totality of your behavior in every aspect of your life should be considered an act of worshiping God.
“Therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your spiritual worship”
(Romans 12:1, HCSB
[Written in memory of my good friend and mentor, Dr. Otey Johnson]