November 15, 2006

At Odds With Others

Matthew 5:21-26

"First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift."


For the next several days we're going to look at some teachings that people misunderstood in Jesus' day. Jesus mentions these because we are called to show love from the heart rather than just following a set of rules. In each instance Jesus begins by saying, "You have heard ..." and then he says, "But I tell you ..."

The first example deals with the commandment "Do not murder." Many people think that if they have never killed anyone physically, they have kept this commandment. But Jesus says that anyone who is angry with another person or calls someone a hurtful name, such as "Fool!" has disobeyed this command.

Jesus also gives some shocking advice that suggests there may be times when we shouldn't even go to worship, or times when we should get up and leave a worship meeting.

This may sound a bit strange to us, but it shows that Jesus is serious about our relationships. Jesus is saying that if someone has something against us, we need to be reconciled with that person before we approach God with an offer of worship, gifts, or service.

After all, how could we pretend to have a good relationship with God if we have violated a relationship with someone else? How could we pretend to love God if we have shown that we do not love a neighbor?

Dear God, sometimes we brood on bitterness and hold on to our anger. And sometimes we try to worship you when we have wronged others. Forgive us, Lord. Amen.

About the author — Jerry Hoytema

Pastor Jerry Hoytema is a retired minister living in Ontario. In his retirement he has served several churches as an interim pastor. He and his wife, Winnie, have four children and 13 grandchildren.

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