True worship: keeping a clean sheet

We cannot enjoy a good relationship with God if we do not (as far as we are able) maintain good relationships with our neighbours (I John 4:20,21). This might seem self-evident, but how many of us are happy to turn up at church for a Sunday worship service despite having failed to pay bills, return borrowed items, keep promises or fulfil various other social obligations (to visit an elderly relative, for example)? Sometimes it feels easier to approach God than an offended human being – but we can’t do the one without the other.

Human nature being what it is, the Law stipulated that any sin involving a third party could not be atoned for until appropriate restitution had been made (Leviticus 6:1-7). The sacrifice would not be accepted, and so forgiveness could not be sought from God, until the human relationship had been put right. Jesus applied this principle to other forms of worship as well: “If you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.” (Matthew 5:23,24)

So there we have it. It doesn’t matter how inspiring the music is, how enthusiastic our singing, or even how generous we are when the offering plate comes round; if we are not also making the effort to live in harmony with other people, we might as well have stayed at home.

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