“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.” [Mt. 5:23-24]
When it comes to personal relationships, those relationships go in two different directions, like the two beams of the cross. The vertical beam represents our personal relationship with God, and the horizontal beam represents our relationship with our fellow man.
Whether we want to accept this truth or not, Jesus taught that our relationship with God and our offerings and sacrifices are not acceptable to Him if our relationships with others are not right. This is a teaching that too many in Christ’s Church are not taking seriously.
God cares about our relationships with others, especially our brothers and sisters in Christ. When you have people offering up to God prayers, songs, praise, and financial gifts at Mass, and yet they aren’t speaking to others two pews down, their offerings mean nothing to God.
It is contradictory for a tongue to say, “I love God,” in one breath, and then to say, “I despise my brother” in the next breath. It is contradictory to desire to draw close to God in one breath, why purposely avoiding and shutting out a brother or sister in Christ in the next breath.
Reconciliation with a brother or sister in Christ involves humility and self-denial. If we are not being empowered by God on a daily basis, and we are not allowing His Spirit to put our “flesh” to death, we are not going to die to our will. It is not possible for us to walk in genuine humility and self-denial in our own strength. Therefore, we must spend time with God in prayer so that we will receive His grace and power. But after God has given us His grace and power, He expects us to use it, especially when it comes to being reconciled to our brother or sister in Christ. If we spend time with God in prayer and continue to remain separated from our brother, then we have received His grace in vain.
Anytime I see church members not speaking to each other I see church members who have not been crucified with Christ.
When our relationships with others in the Church are not right, it brings a dark and foul spirit into the sanctuary of God. I have sat in church sanctuaries and literally felt the presence of a heavy and oppressive spirit hanging over the congregation. God’s Spirit cannot move when there is disunity in a church. His Spirit becomes hindered.
Love for your brother is the other side of love for God. You can’t have one without the other. When people come together to worship, and their relationships with each other are wrong, their worship is void of fragrance. Instead of fragrance, there is a foul stench that is loathsome to our Beloved Savior, and He turns away from it repulsed.
If we greet our brother in Christ at church with a smile on our face, yet inwardly, we despise him and want nothing to do with him, God sees this. If we have been “reconciled” to our brother only outwardly, but not inwardly, it means nothing to God. False reconciliation is not reconciliation. That which does not take place in the heart will not be recognized by the Son of God.
Let us honestly examine our relationships with others, especially those in the Church. The destiny of your soul depends on this, for where you stand with your brother…
…is where you stand with Christ.
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