Matthew 5:21-26 – “You have heard that the ancients were told, ‘YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT MURDER’ and ‘Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.’ 22 “But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, ‘ You good-for-nothing,’ shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell. 23 “Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering. 25 ” Make friends quickly with your opponent at law while you are with him on the way, so that your opponent may not hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the officer, and you be thrown into prison. 26 “Truly I say to you, you will not come out of there until you have paid up the last cent.” NASU
As I have meditated upon my own experiences and listened to the questions of others regarding “offerings” and the seeming lack of response from God some things have come to light. The Bible says, “Give and it shall be given unto you…” The clear teaching of Scripture is that when we give, God responds in kind and the Law of Sowing and Reaping or Law of Harvest cannot be overlooked in Scripture. But, what about giving and not receiving? If you have experienced that you may have concluded that you just didn’t recognize the return or you may have determined that when you give you should not expect to receive. I do not believe that we should give for the purpose of receiving for selfish reasons but I do believe that God’s word is true and He has declared that when we give we receive. The receiving should not, in my view, be the motive for the gift but it is a part of God’s process and God gives so that we can give more and do more for the Kingdom of God.
Here in this passage, the LORD is dealing with personal relationships, hate, and anger. In the midst of that teaching, Jesus says, “Therefore…” You always need to find out what the, therefore, is there for. “Therefore, if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and remember…” This is a gift to God (at the altar) and as you give your heart smites you with a twinge of conscience and you remember. Remember what? That someone has something against you. He did not say, you have something against them but that someone holds a grudge against you or has been offended by you. They believe you have wronged them. Maybe you did and maybe you didn’t but their perception is you did. That condition renders your offering unacceptable. I am not suggesting you stop giving because, in this life, it is almost impossible for anyone to not find someone who holds something against them. This is speaking about relationships and therefore this is likely a brother or sister who is offended. How do you make the offering acceptable and complete the process of giving and receiving so that you can give more and more?
Jesus said, “Leave your gift there…” Just when you thought there was a way out of giving He negates that idea and says, “Give your gift. Leave it there before the altar.” What do we do? We go to that offended brother or sister and seek to be reconciled and then we come back and complete the offering. Reconciliation is the heart of God in every situation. Nothing is worth the spiritual, emotional, and possibly physical damage done in allowing grudges to fester and grow. When we allow grudges and offenses to fester we negate our ability to witness and thereby diminish our impact on the world for good and God.
But, there is an additional part here that I want you to see. When we give an offering to God that is acceptable He makes it holy and it becomes a sweet aroma in his nostrils. The heart of God moves to release a return to you that is “good measure, shaken down, and running over.” WHY? So, that you can have an abundance to give to every good cause that He sets before you. So, that He can demonstrate His Law of Harvest and both the world and church can witness His goodness and faithfulness to keep His word. Good seed planted in good soil receives a good harvest. So, that your life is a testimony of His Grace, Goodness, Faithfulness, and Provision.
God, bless you and if in your giving, you are finding that your receiving both materially and spiritually is reduced, examine your heart and consider this passage. It is possible for someone to be offended and hold a grudge and we do not know it, but usually, we know. Therefore, if we know then we should go seeking reconciliation. Remember that a three-fold cord is not easily broken and when two are in agreement they can walk together. We are told that when two horses pull together in tandem they have the strength of an invisible third horse. Let’s seek to become stronger in unity.
God, bless you richly is my prayer and desire!