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Relationships are important in the Kingdom of God. More important than we think. And it is a petty we do not give them the right value, only when it is too late.
I read a story written by a Jewish Rabbi. He wrote about a man— let’s name him Andrew— who, after his mother died, began to look into her belongings. Andrew knew that his mother
Most items on the list did have lines through them. And that did indicate they have been completed. And the incomplete ones had a circle around them. However, he did find beginning with 1955, every October 22nd, the entry ‘call Hanna’ was etched at the top of the page. October 22nd was Hanna’s birthday, and Andrew’s mother intended to call her. However, every year it remained circled in red, incomplete. Andrew’s mother and her sister-in-law, Hanna, had had some argument. And nobody did remember when, why or what happened.
In 1987 the item finally had a line running through it. And below the entry read visited the cemetery and told Hanna I was sorry. Can you imagine this situation? For 32 years, two relatives could not speak to one another. And probably that was because it was too hard and too painful. Moreover, think what life would have been had they forgiven and done the right thing first and not delayed. The result would have been one less hole in the heart at the time of death— at least. And one less piece of unfinished business.
We need to pay attention to our relationships
Many of us walk through life with holes in our heart. Furthermore, unforgiveness and bitterness are doing lots of damages in the Kingdom of God. Moreover, I believe we do not know how important it is to forgive.
Jesus is teaching us in Matthew 5:23-26 (TLV) something unusual:
Therefore if you are presenting your offering upon the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering. “Make friends quickly with your opponent while you are with him on the way. Otherwise, your opponent may hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the assistant, and you will be thrown into prison. Amen, I tell you, you will never get out of there until you have paid back the last penny!
What can we learn from this teaching of Jesus? At least two things:
1. Relationships are more important than our worship.
This is not something you hear often. And yes, in a way relationships and the way we treat our fellows, are more important than our worship. Moreover, that is what Jesus, in His authority as the Son of God, told or commanded us.
Jesus said that if we are on our way to the altar to bring our offering or sacrifice— that is, our worship. And on our way we remember that someone has something against us, then we should stop. We need to leave our offering in front of the altar— not on the altar [that is we should not dare to put it on the altar].
Furthermore, we should go and reconcile with our brother. And I am sure the Lord did mean to reconcile with our fellow— not in a superficial way. Moreover, after we did that, we should come back to the altar and put it on the altar and thus present our offering/worship. And only after that, the fire of God will consume our offering and will be pleasant to His heart.
And guys, just for the record, I know it is easier to do something for the Lord than to forgive. I know it’s easier to give money to the poor, do mission or invest your life and time in some Church activities than to have godly relationships. This is an area we all lack wisdom and knowledge if we are honest with ourselves.
Therefore, let us be assured that God does look at our worship with interest. And His priority is how we treat each other, not how much money we donate or how good we preach or how much we pray, etc. In His Kingdom, relationships have a higher priority. And that’s just the way things work in His Kingdom. Moreover, nobody is an exception.
2. Relationships represent an area for which I need to take responsibility.
I did grow up believing that if someone has something against me, that person should come and confront me. Therefore, it was compelling to me when I did understand this is not the way of the Holy Spirit and is not according to the Bible. And I am saying that because Jesus is teaching us something else.
Jesus said that if I remember that my brother has something against me, I should NOT wait for him to come and let me know what he has against me. NO! If I remember (or have the impression that) my fellow brother has something (anything, small or significant) against me, I need to TAKE THE FIRST STEP! And this is so different than what the world is teaching because I am sure almost all of us did believe things should be done the other way around. Things in God’s Kingdom are often in opposition to how things are in the world.
So, if I know you have something against me, I need to make the first step and look for reconciliation. How about when I have something against another? What should I do then? I am sure you know the answer because Jesus is teaching us in Matthew 18:15-17 that again, it is my responsibility to TAKE THE FIRST STEP.
I believe a blockage in my relationships with my fellow brothers, represent an obstruction in my relationship with God. And this is something I do not want. Therefore, this is serious. Always, if we’re going to see how good our relationship with God is, let us look at how good our relationships with people are. Nothing simpler than that.
And guys, no matter what happened, we need to TAKE THE FIRST STEP. Let us leave anything we do for God now (our worship), and let us obey Jesus.
In 1 Samuel 15:22 (TLV) we read
Does Adonai delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of Adonai? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, to pay heed than the fat of rams.
And in Mark 12:33 (TLV) we read
And ‘to love Him with all the heart, with all the understanding, and with all the strength,’ and ‘to love the neighbor as oneself,’ is much more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.
When we look at Jesus and meditate on what He did for us, we should thank Him and praise Him. However, we should also follow His example without any delay!
Let us all ask the Holy Spirit to search our hearts and let us put our lives in order, by His grace, and in His order. And in the way, we read in His Word. And let us not wait like Hanna, for 32 years to do the right thing— that is, to reconcile with our brother or sister.
Do you agree?
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