Leaving Your Gift at the Altar ~ Matthew 5:24

Today’s Key Scripture

Matthew 5:24

“leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come offer your gift.” NKJV

Discussion

Ever hear that a true friend is hard to find? To often we hear of people calling each other friends but how many of us can look ourselves in the eye and say we are truly a friend of someone? Before you answer let’s look at what scripture says about being a friend. To often we reduce ourselves and our faith to our own simple knowledge and understanding when we should be seeing a higher way including what it means to be a friend, one who is deeper than a brother. Let’s take a moment to pray for God to reveal our heart.

As we see in the scripture, in Matthew 5:24, Jesus is challenging the notion that we can just drop by and hang out with God anytime we want without our own selves having any regard for how we are treating one another, our brothers, and even more so those we say we are friends of. God is holy and as one author puts it, is deserving of far better than our left overs in life. How often do we just ask God to accept our garbage and assume He will, abusing His grace, defiling ourselves and diluting our faith? Simply put, God does not want our offering if we are not right with our brothers. Period. Isn’t our daily life an offering? Romans 12:1

Love the Lord your God and Love your brothers as yourself. Right? You are to Love God and by doing so are committing to treating one in a mirror relationship to the Lord. Of course we worship only God but we are commanded to love our brothers and we are commanded to love God. The same word for love is used here in the original text meaning that we should have the same love and the same care, patience, humility, selflessness, dedication and loyalty for one another as we have for the Lord. The same.

A friend loves at all times and a brother born for adversity. Proverbs 17:17 NKJV See a friend loves at all times. All. Well my friend is different, you say:

  • My friend is hard to love
  • My friend has said things I don’t want to hear
  • My friend is making my life difficult
  • My friend, well I just don’t have time right now
  • My friend, they don’t understand
You see, to be a friend is to love sacrificially. If you are not giving up yourself, chances are you are not a friend. If you are not following through on obligations, chances are you are not a friend. If you don’t like to give up time to be with that person, they are not a friend. Don’t fool yourself and worse don’t let your brother put his trust in you. Confidence in an unfaithful man in time of trouble is like a bad tooth and a foot out of joint. Proverbs 25:19 In other words, it hurts and is excruciatingly painful.
So here is a litmus test, can you, will you or have you had a pattern of…“Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” John 15:13 Self sacrifice. If you can’t get over yourself and lay your life down (sometimes just self pride is all that is needed), then you are not a friend. Remember men, we are at war. We are at war against Satan, his demons and his works. The US Marines have a saying, Semper Fidelis, which means always faithful (a friend loves at all times, very similar). As a soldier we put our trust in our brother to have our back, to be our armor bearer. If you are carrying someone else’s armor, you cannot fight for yourself but stand to be there for the person who has put their trust in you. So if soldiers put this much trust in each other on the battle field, how much more so as brothers when we are fighting for souls?
Let’s take off any masks of facade toward our brothers and friends, approaching a holy God with an unveiled face knowing we have an offering pleasing to our Lord. So are you a friend?

Spiritual Challenge

  1. What’s your pattern of being a friend? Do you have long relationships? Are they short?
  2. Think of a friendship you have deemed as important. How would you rate yourself as a friend? How would your friend rate you?
  3. We grow up with a secular view of friendship. Many of use the term loosely referring to acquaintances as friends. How does your definition of being a friend compare with scripture?
  4. Knowing as a friend you are to lay down your life for your friend. Explain how this statement self sacrifice relates to what Jesus did for us?
  5. So ask yourself, is there anyone  you need to reconcile with and leave your gift at the altar?

Prayer

Father God, thank You for calling me out. Thank you for pointing out that I need to get over myself and that true love is what You require from us. Games are not for Your children Lord. You have called us to a serious and intense relationship with You and one another. One of full authenticity, where trust is fulfilled and not cast aside. Help me to be the father, brother and the friend you have called me to be. Not a phony or attendee at a charade or masquerade party. A true child in You of authenticity, of faithfulness, of love. God make my paths straight before You. Let me put myself aside and lift up my brother. May I never forget my friend is relying on me daily in the midst of the spiritual warfare which surrounds our every moment. In Your great name, Jesus! Amen!

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