Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Bigger Than Worship

Seriously?  What could possibly be bigger than worship?  The eternal activity of angels is worship.  The never-ending energy of the redeemed will be devoted to worship.  The book ends of time, eternity, and all points in between whisper, speak, call, and shout the priority of worship.  In Psalm 150 when the psalmist had run through all the known instruments of his day, he finally concluded, "Let everything that has breath, praise the LORD."  Is there a higher priority than worship?

"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."
Matthew 5:23-24 (NIV)

The above passage is offered as the conclusion to Jesus' teaching on the connection between murder and the sin of hatred/wrathful anger.  Our Lord's warning is that persons are not innocent of murder simply because they haven't carried it out physically.  If we are found with the loose disregard for a human being, who, although they are made in God's image, we dare to call them a "fool" or "good for nothing" (raca), then we are worthy of judgment and even the fires of hell.

So, in verses 23 and 24, Jesus explains that if we are in such a position where the sin of anger resides between ourselves and another, then we ought to postpone everything- even worship- in an effort to make things right.  But how many of us do that?  And exactly why should such a resolution among men trump worship towards God?  I wondered about this for a while and here's what I came up with:

Reconciliation trumps worship because true reconciliation precedes and is logically prior to true worship.  Unless a one is reconciled to God, there is no worship that they can offer that is acceptable to Him.  Only those who live according to the Spirit and have their minds set on the things of God are able to worship because we acknowledge that those controlled by the flesh and sinful nature are unable to please God.  If it is the case that worship pleases God, then it follows that in order to worship God, we must first be reconciled to Him (see Romans 8:5-8).

If this is the case between God and men, then we understand that God's forgiveness towards us  overflows into love towards our fellow humans.  None of us will ever have to extend mercy and forgiveness at a greater cost than God.  If He, being sinless, could forgive us at the price of Jesus' life, He will most certainly require that we forgive fellow sinners (see Matthew 6:14-15).

At the point that a man refuses to forgive another, he has lost touch with his own fallen condition.  His pride, self-righteousness, and anger are blinding him-- he cannot worship God because he is too full of himself.  Forgiveness requires humility because it means we relinquish our right to be angry and offended.  Certainly, Christ demonstrated that kind of humility on the cross. The call to pick up one's cross and follow after Him necessarily includes a life marked by forgiveness.  One forgiven by God can and will forgive others by the power of the Holy Spirit.

The imagery in the following verses are meant as a warning to all who have not yet "settled matters" with the Judge.  Do whatever it takes to be reconciled to Him.  If not, you will face imprisonment until you have paid the last penny.  Be advised, however, that your sin has incurred a debt to God that you cannot repay; you are facing an eternal punishment. Don't look to yourself and don't think that righteousness comes from your attempts to keep God's law.  Instead, look to Christ Who alone can say with respect to paying sin-debt "it is finished".  



  1. Awesome! Brother Eric, I'm so glad God allowed me to know you and your heart for rightly dividing the word of God! *Mitchell

  2. This is great Eric. I try to use the priciple of Matt 5 23:24 in all my relationships. God bless you bruh!

  3. This is DJ lol. Amen to this! What a convicting view at our relationships with others but true worship always costs something (1 Chronicles 21:24). Thank you for sharing this.

  4. Convicted and glad about a deeper conversion! God bless you Deacon Eric!