“‘Leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering’” (Matthew 5:24).
No matter who is responsible for a severed relationship—and often both sides bear some guilt—it’s essential to reconcile before going to God in worship. Even if you have nothing against the other person and the fault lies entirely with them, you should do everything possible to settle things. You can’t change another’s heart attitude, but you should desire to close the gap between yourself and the other person and hold no grudge against him or her—then you can enter freely and fully into divine worship.
Better music, more eloquent prayers, or more classic architecture—none of these will enhance true worship. Even better or more biblical preaching will not of itself improve our worship experience. However, a contrite and righteous attitude toward God and our brothers and sisters will enhance genuine worship. Sometimes the drastic measure of staying away from church for a time until a broken or strained relationship is right is the only action that will make our worship God-honoring.
Long before Jesus preached the Sermon on the Mount, Samuel said, “Has the Lord as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams” (1 Sam. 15:22). After that the psalmist said, “If I regard wickedness in my heart, the Lord will not hear” (Ps. 66:18). If sin remains unconfessed and relationships broken, there will be no integrity in our worship.
Again, you are responsible only for the condition of your own heart, not another’s. But can you honestly say today that you have made peace in your heart with those who have been at odds with you? Have you forgiven? Have you sought renewed relationship?
From Daily Readings from the Life of Christ, Vol. 1, John MacArthur. Copyright © 2008. Used by permission of Moody Publishers, Chicago, IL 60610, www.moodypublishers.com.
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