HopeCC Blog

Giving As Worship 2/13/18

In addition to revealing our thankfulness, gratefulness, and obedience to God in Christ, giving as worship also represents our unity with and honor for fellow saints of God.

Matthew 5:23-24 Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.

The Christian should be one characterized by "keeping short accounts with others".

God intends for there to be unity and harmony in and among His church. We know that, as a gathering of people still marred by the effects of sin, we will have times of disagreement with each other and times when we do or say things that hurt each other. But, God's Word makes it clear that those occasions should be the exception rather than the rule and, when they do happen, we should be intensely earnest in reconciling relationships—to the point of letting your offering(s) to God wait until you have done so.

That, to me, shows how seriously God takes the relationships of the saints in His church, one with another. We saw in last week's post that God regards shortchanging Him in tithes and offerings as robbery. So when He says to "leave your gift there before the altar", I take that to mean that to have unsettled contention with a brother or sister in Christ is a greater offense than robbing from God. I don't say that to mean that one is a worse sin than the other, but there are two parties involved in a robbing of God and there are at least three parties involved in a dispute among believers— 1. God, 2. the offended (and anyone who would side with them), and 3. the offender (and anyone who would side with them).

The Christian should be one characterized by "keeping short accounts with others"—meaning both quickly seeking forgiveness from the offended AND extending forgiveness to an offender. This is what Paul meant when he exhorted the Romans to "if it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. (12:18)" This exhortation has in view all of humanity. Even more is expected of relationships within the church and both are really only truly possible when we live in willful, joyful submission to the lordship of Christ.

The structure of the arguments and commands presented in Romans 12 begin with our vertical relationship with God and cascades into what that looks like horizontally as we relate to one another. To start it off, he commanded us to "present [our] bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is [our] spiritual worship. (12:1b ESV)" Sandwiched in the middle, he says we are to be "kindly affectionate to one another with [sibling-like] love, in honor giving preference to one another (12:10)". Have you felt affectionate toward your fellow saints? Have you felt affection from your fellow saints? God means the answer for both of those questions to be an emphatic "Yes!"

Heavenly Father, may we give to You with hearts that are free of contempt or anger toward a brother or sister in Christ and, if we can't, would You give us a desire to first worship You in reconciling a relationship before we worship You in our offerings. Teach us that we are hypocrites when we come to 
You for forgiveness and neglect seeking the forgiveness of those we've offended. Teach us that our willingness to forgive reflects Your grace toward us to others, both inside and outside the body of Christ. Give us the heart and mind of Christ as we live this life together in preparation for eternity together. In Jesus name, amen.

To the praise of His glorious grace,

Andy Tucker