Today's Word of Encouragement
Tuesday, June 09, 2020
So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift (Matthew 5:23-24).
The Pharisees were concerned only with the external acts of worship. They had little or no concern with the internal state of the mind, heart, or spirit. A Pharisee believed if honored the physical rites, ceremonies, and rituals of his religion, with no regard to the internal attitudes, thoughts, or motives (i.e. envy, lust, anger, pride, greed, or hatred), he thought he was doing well.
Jesus rejected this hypocrisy. True worship involves the head, heart, and hand - the mind, emotions, and will as well as the physical body. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth (John 4:23-24).
"If," said Jesus, "a person goes so far as to bring an offering to the altar in worship, and remembers that anyone has anything against him/her, it is the worshiper’s responsibility to leave the offering there and go and be reconciled." True worship demands humility, forgiveness, and reconciliation. If anyone says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother (1 John 4:20-21).
Worship is not acceptable to God if the worshiper does not have clean hands and a pure heart. Notice also that the worshiper is not to wait until the offended person should come to him/her; he/she is to go to the offended person and be reconciled, then true worship can take place. Anything less is spiritual hypocrisy.
So now, worship is not acceptable to God, regardless of how well it is performed, until the worshiper is at peace with those he is at odds with. To obey is better than sacrifice, God said (1 Samuel 15:22). The person who believes he/she can approach God in worship with a heart, mind, and spirit filled with anger, hatred, and envy, who is at odds with another person, is a hypocritical worshiper; his/her worship will not be a sweet sacrifice to God. God cannot be deceived, and God will not be mocked.
"Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. You do not take pleasure in worship that is hypocritical, superficial, or perfunctory. True worship involves a broken spirit and a contrite heart. These You delight in. My heart's desire is to be like Abel in worship, not like his brother Cain. So, remind me Lord, even now, of those I have offended and those who are offended with me, that I may go and be reconciled to them before I bow my heart before You in worship. Amen."