Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Our Relationships with Others Reflects on Our Walk with Jesus

Matthew 5:23-24

23 “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.”

A historic view might help us understand how important this statement is from Jesus – how eye-opening it was for His hearers. In order to offer a sacrifice – an offering – most people traveled miles upon miles – often over several days. Some were lucky enough to live in Jerusalem and might have come more often – but most only traveled to the Temple a few times a year. After making the trip to the temple – they had to purchase a sacrifice if they hadn’t brought one with them on their long trip. They would have a calf – or a dove – or a lamb maybe or maybe their offering was money. They would probably wait most of the day in a long line to get the chance to offer their sacrifice/offering. It was hot – dry – and smelly with all of the animals in line – not counting the smell from the altar with all of the animals being sacrificed in the temple. They finally got to the altar area and were ready to give the priest their offering and it hits them – they have someone who has an issue with them – it may not even be their fault. This is where Jesus’ words hit – this is the circumstance as the people heard Jesus say: “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.”

The hearers of Jesus’ words – in today’s vernacular – might have said something like: really, really? I mean – you couldn’t mean tie up my lamb – or take it with me – or give it to another and go home and make it right with my brother/sister/friend/co-worker/etc. and travel back and stand in line again to make my offering – do You God? I mean – it is THEIR issue – not mine. Jesus believed that offering anything to God with something on your heart or something on the heart of another concerning you – something not dealt with between you and a brother or sister – meant your offering would be tainted – maybe even not received. Andy Stanley writes in Enemies of the Heart the following: In effect he (Jesus) says our relationship with God hinges on our relationships with other people – the two are inseparable.

This is so true and at times we forget it – thinking our relationship with God merely involves God and us – a personal – private thing! Jesus reminds us that our walk with God is tied up in our relationship with others – it is tied up in our heart. It is tied up in our day-to-day behavior and experiences. Being Jesus’ disciple is a moment by moment experience. Everything we do – think – or say is part of our walk with Jesus. Wow – what a great example Jesus used. The bonds of friendship or relationship reflect upon our walk with Jesus!

Recently someone said I was very rational. They didn’t mean it in a bad way . They said that because I thought rationally – I was able to compartmentalize things – viewing things as not connected but standing alone. The point was made that some around me are not able to do this and I need to be reminded of this fact in my relationships with others.

Being rational can be good or it could not be so good. Today’s passage reminds us that few things if anything in life stand alone. Everything is connected – and connected with our walk with Jesus. For instance – a pastor wears many hats. At times a pastor is the priest for the people standing in the gap between them and God pleading with God for them – at times a pastor is a shepherd guarding the flock – at times a speaker of prophetic words given from God – at times a counselor for the hurting – at times an administrative director for the organization of the church – at times a boss or leader of the staff and others – and there are more hats and they keep shuffling. These are all so intertwined and connected. A saying I’ve used in the past comes to mind: A person will not be accepted as a prophet by their congregation until they are accepted as a pastor first (someone who loves them). We forget this at times – I know I have. If one area of our lives is not in order it can impact other areas of our life – even if we don’t see the connection!

Today’s passage reminds us that we cannot separate our work – play – home life – church – and hobbies. They are all intertwined in the person we are and they reflect on the other parts of our person. Playing basketball we cannot be just one of the guys/gals – we are a follower of Christ all the time or we may not be at all. At the very least we are reflecting our sinful self rather than the glorified Christ we want to let shine in our lives.

Just something to think about today as you go on your way.

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If you wish to join me reading the same plans I read each day on www.youversion.com they are as follows: a yearlong reading plan called Robert Roberts – day 31 today – the Gospels in 30 days – day 23 today – and a new plan – a short one – a five-day plan called Relationships – day 1 today. Join me or try other reading plans.

January 31, 2012 - Posted by | Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Faith Journey | , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. This is deep. Thank you!


    Comment by Mary | January 31, 2012 | Reply

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