In a time where our world is in a dark place that only worship and prayer can change it, it’s probably very strange to see an article titled as such. The worship of God is something that scripture shows is a normal part of a Christian’s life. But, believe it or not, Jesus gives us a situation in which we should stop our worship.
In Matthew 5 beginning at verse 21, Jesus is speaking about the consequences of anger. In verse 24 he makes this startling statement…that we should stop our worship at the altar. Why would Jesus tell us such a thing? It’s for a reason that most people overlook, but it has overwhelming impact on our spiritual walk with God.
The answer to the question is actually found in verse 23 where Jesus states that if we’re at the altar, and then remember that someone has something against you, that you should stop your worship and first be reconciled with that person. During those days, a sacrifice brought to the altar was an animal that was prepared and required a several days trip to the temple. Just imagine the impact of having to interrupt that process to go and reconcile with someone.
We can truly see the heart of God through verse 23…Jesus tells us that if we remember someone that has something against us, we must stop offering our gift and be reconciled. Even if we’re not the one who is angry, but remember someone who is angered or bothered with us, we must take the first step towards reconciliation. This is not only a gesture of love, but a sign of spiritual growth and maturity.
This is what God is impressing upon us…Jesus is emphatic that our relationship with others takes priority over religious worship. Our anger and failure to mend broken relationships interrupts our fellowship with God. Keep in mind that the second greatest commandment was to love our neighbors as we love ourselves.
Just for clarity, Jesus is not telling us to stop praying or worshipping, but rather emphasizing the importance of not letting hurt relationships go unresolved. God’s concern is not our worship or religious duties, but rather ensuring we prioritize the more important issue of reconciling relationships.
As a matter of fact, we should always be prayerful through the reconciliation process, and ensure that we reconcile issues as quickly as possible. A healthy relationship with God includes healthy relationships with others as well. We can’t expect to come to God with our worship while our relationships are in turmoil and unresolved. And, we can’t say that we love God, and not like people (John 13:35, 1 John 4:20).
So, the best gift we can offer to God doesn’t start with gifts or money, but rather a life that reflects His love and grace and includes our honest desires and actions to reconcile damaged relationships with others.
Start preparing your heart to mend your relationships so that you can come freely to offer your gift to God. He will be with you through the reconciliation process.
I’m praying with you and for you…be blessed!
By Rick Wood