Thought for Today
Aug. 04


"If thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee, leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way. First be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift."
- Jesus, in Matthew 5:23-24

God cares how we treat others, especially other children of God. He does not accept worship from anyone who has done wrong to another and has not yet made it right. The greatest commandment is that we should love God with all our hearts and minds, but the second greatest commandment is that we should love our neighbors as ourselves (Mt. 22:40). The truth is that if we love God as we should, we will love our neighbor as we love ourselves. Even the Law of Moses was given to Israel so that they know how to live peaceably with both God and each other.

It is because God cares how people feel that Jesus warned us to make things right with a brother who has something against us before we offer any gifts to God. This injunction of Jesus is frequently misunderstood, however, by the humble children of God who love peace and want to please the Father. Jesus was warning us that if we have, in fact, harmed someone, then we should make right that unrighteous act before we worship God. He was not saying that we have to try to make people like us. There are ungodly people who may, at times, falsely accuse us of wrongdoing. In such cases, we cannot "make it right" because we never made anything wrong.

Pay careful attention to Jesus' words. He told you not to offer your gift to God if your brother "has ought against you". But a person cannot "have ought against you" unless you have actually done wrong to him. He can say he has ought against you; he can think he has ought against you; but he cannot really have ought against you give it to him; that is, unless you really have done him wrong.

By this commandment of our Lord, Jesus did not make us slaves to people with bad attitudes. He did not tell us to refrain from worshiping God just because someone doesn't happen to like us or just because someone makes an accusation against us. He only told us to postpone worshiping God if, when we come to worship Him, He brings to our attention a wrong that we have really done to someone. We are servants of God, not men.

In the event that we have wronged someone, it is very important that we repair the damaged fellowship with him before we approach God to offer Him a gift. Otherwise, Jesus warned, the wronged brother may talk to God about it, the righteous Judge, who may then turn you over to one of his many instruments of wrath until you have paid in full for the wrong you did your brother (Mt. 5:25-26).