If Thou Bring Thy Gift To The Altar
Not long ago I heard a Bishop give his view on the above text in a funeral sermon, and it was good, sound doctrine pertaining to salvation. “If thou bring thy gift to the altar”-according to Romans 12:1, this means giving your own body, and this is also the highest valued gift that you can present to God. Abraham offered up himself to God (that is, his will was surrendered to the will of God) instead of his son Isaac. It is not possible that we may present our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable unto God, while we are fully aware that we have done anything against a brother in anyway, even if it was only with a few remarks that we made to stain his good name. The nature in man so strongly urges him to exalt himself by abusing the reputation of others. I plead with you, brother or sister whoever you may be, that is guilty of such transgression, drop everything else for the moment, and go to your brother and straiten that thing out in a Christian way; do it, even if you must do it in writing; for such attempts to slander another will lock the door to perfect blessings for you. In this condition, you cannot be in full fellowship with your Saviour Jesus Christ, or receive his vicarious sacrifice. You may pray, you may fast, you may give alms, you may feed the hungry, you may support all kinds of charitable causes, and perform every deed of love and mercy, but your efforts are all in vain. All these sacrifices cannot heal the injury you have done to your brother's reputation.
The Saviour therefore says further: Be at agreement with thy adversary betimes, whilst thou art in the way with him: lest perhaps the adversary deliver thee to the judge, (before whom we will all appear), and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison. Amen I say to thee, thou shalt not go out from thence till thou repay the last farthing. (Matthew 5:25-26). And because you will never be able to pay, you will also never come out. It is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of God (unreconciled).
But I say to you, that whosoever is angry with his brother, shall be in danger of the judgment. And whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council. And whosoever shall say, Thou Fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. If therefore thou offer thy gift at the altar, and there thou remember that thy brother hath any thing against thee; Leave there thy offering before the altar, and go first to be reconciled to thy brother: and then coming thou shalt offer thy gift.
Be at agreement with thy adversary betimes, whilst thou art in the way with him: lest perhaps the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison.
Amen I say to thee, thou shalt not go out from thence till thou repay the last farthing (Matthew 5:22-26).
The overall purpose of our text is to point out the danger of taking unforgiven sins along into the grave. We are dealing here with a sin that requires more than a cry of “God be merciful to me, a sinner.” This cry will never correct the injustice done to your brother or sister, or whoever else it may be. This is the day of grace. We do not know whether we will have opportunity tomorrow to be reconciled with our offended brother; therefore, if you remember that a brother has anything against you, then lay everything else aside, go quickly and rescue your soul. Flee with Lot from Sodom as though fire were pursuing you: for in the full sense of the word eternal damnation fire is moving toward you if you carry your unrepented sins into the presence of the great judge of all the world. But now we are still traveling together “in the way,” and many neglected errors can still be adjusted, many misunderstanding can be ironed out, many amends made for injury of character, many sharp, harsh words may still be taken back. Where this situation prevails do something about it for Christ's sake. To bow in humble reverence to our offended brother is a very effective way to bring that old carnal Adam the self-centered “I” down to the place where he will not do us so much mischief.