Matthew R. Perry

Reconciling To Your Brother Is More Important Than Religious Duty

In Sermons on June 10, 2008 at 4:11 pm

(This sermon, Could You Be Charged With First Degree Anger?, was preached at Boone’s Creek Baptist Church, Lexington, KY, on Sunday, June 8, 2008.  To read through Part I, click here.  To listen to other audio sermons, click here.)

What would you do if I stood up here in front of you and gave you a guilt-free reason to miss church? It would serve as one reason to be absent that would excusable. Well, you don’t have to look to your pastor for a reason — look to Jesus. Matthew 5:23-24 says:

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.

Jesus tells us that reconciling to your brother is more important than even the most important of religious duties. Someone may say, “Well, doesn’t this idea contradict what the writer in Hebrews says about “not forsaking the assembling of yourselves together” (Hebrews 10:25)? Doesn’t the Spirit say that if we are Christians that we must never miss church? Yes it does, but it also tells us in verses 23-24:

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works.

How can you stir up one another to love and good works if you realize that someone has something against you (or, even more obvious, you have something against someone else that is fracturing that relationship)? You may say, “They are acting that way for no reason.” Are you so sure about that? D.A Carson notes that if we continue to engage in personal or public worship having a fractured relationship and we are not willing to deal with it, worship “becomes a pretence and a sham if the worshiper has behaved so poorly that his brother has something against him.”

What’s the issue? If someone has something against us, we cannot simply shake that off by saying, “Oh, that’s their problem! If they want to fix it, they know where I am.” Yet, according to Jesus, this issue is so serious that there is no rationale for justifying this away and putting it on someone else. Your worship and fellowship with God is on the line. Psalm 66:18 says:

If I had cherished iniquity in my heart,
the Lord would not have listened.

1 Samuel 15:22 shows the prophet Samuel saying,

“Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices,
as in obeying the voice of the Lord?
Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice,
and to listen than the fat of rams.

Why? Because you have underestimated what God did in taking the first step in reconciling you to himself! Col. 2:13-15 says:

And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, [14] by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. [15] He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.

Notice that God didn’t just wipe them away — those trespasses he set aside came at a high cost. He initiated the whole thing. And when we consider that God atoned for our sins by placing their horrific penalty on His own Son so we may have hope of life everlasting in Him, then we turn around and struggle with issues that are trivial.

If you find yourself using church or other religious issues to numb the Holy Spirit’s work in your heart, then you are only deceiving yourself.

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