Leave Your Gifts



Back to the Sermon on the Mount.  This is hitting on a character defect that has been popping up in me lately – anger.  “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’”  Jesus refers to the old law of Moses to set up the contrast to what he was about to say.  Under the Mosaic law, those accused of murder would stand before a lower “court” so to speak, and face a human judge.  “But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.”  Now Jesus is bringing his real message, the new standard we are held to under the New Covenant.  Under the old covenant, the Jews would be subject to human judgement only for acting in their anger and actually committing murder.  Under the New Covenant, we are subject to divine judgement simply for holding anger in our hearts!!  We are going to be held accountable simply for being angry, or saying a cross word to our brothers.  “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.”  Under the old covenant, when bringing offerings before the priestly councils to ask for forgiveness of sins, the picture here is of waiting for the priest to come and take the sacrifice to be offered.  So if we were to be at this altar, waiting for our sacrifice to be made, then remember that we had a conflict out there, that someone had a grudge against us, we would be called to immediately put our sin sacrifice on hold to go and “make amends” with whoever had an issue with us.  We would be called to do this before, not after, offering the sacrifice.  What does this mean for us??   I always thought this referred to making our tithes and offerings, but I was way off.  Our sacrament that ties in with the picture being painted here is that of Holy Communion.  Our eating together of the body of Christ, our drinking together of the blood of Christ, shed for us.  The ultimate sin sacrifice made for all time.  This is why my pastor is so particular about our taking communion.  By this illustration, Jesus makes it clear we are to be right with God and in our hearts before we make our offering at the altar.  But we can’t be right before God while we still have conflict festering in our lives, or anger in our hearts.  “Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison. Truly, I say to you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny.”  Again, Jesus uses human terms to make a Godly illustration.  We MUST settle our differences with others in this life.  We are called to clean up our messes, to make our amends.  Those of us in recovery know that we have to do this  en masse once, then on an ongoing basis thereafter.  And we must do it ASAP – before we go before the judge.  Because as much as we tell ourselves we have time, how much time are we guaranteed?

And we tell ourselves we have it so much easier under the New Covenant… 
 

 

  ““You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire. 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. Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison. Truly, I say to you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny.”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭5:21-26‬ ‭ESV‬‬
http://bible.com/59/mat.5.21-26.esv
 
 
 

John Lewis

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