Presence Devotion #15
Go and come
David Breen – General Manager of Training, Discovery Community Care
Matthew 5: 23-24
… leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.
A black African friend of mine, George Agutu, had a saying that used to make me laugh, “Go and come”. He loved to tell me to go do something and then come back (I think it was a Kenyan thing).
Jesus says “Go and come” in our reading today – and he had a very clear reason for saying it. In ancient Israel, the Jews would bring gifts to God as a sacrificial offering. Jesus told his disciples to leave the gift at the temple and go immediately to be reconciled, and then come back. The bleating goat or bawling calf was an incentive to get on with it!
We don’t offer literal gifts of goats and bulls at the altar anymore, but we do offer gifts to God in our worship and personal lives. We give our time to God as a gift in seeking him and being with him.
The imperative here is the need to be immediate in putting our relationships back into good order. When a Jew brought a gift it was an animal he cared about – they were shepherds and agriculturalists mostly – so leaving a goat or bull standing at the temple made reconciliation a high priority. Jesus intended this to be the case; he was forcing the point of highest priority.
The highest priority in offering a gift to God and being in his presence is the act of relationship. If we want a close relationship with our heavenly Father, as he does with us, we must put our relationships right with people first. Go and be reconciled, then come and offer your gift – your life, your worship, your money, your service. The first priority is your relationships – these are more important than the gift you are giving.
When we offer ourselves to God there are some conditions, or pre-requisites. Having a pure heart, where there is no bitterness towards others is essential in moving closer to God and knowing his presence. It is not easy to put things right with other people – it can be one of the hardest things we ever do, but it is crucial to our intimacy with God.
I have had to eat humble pie on many occasions and be reconciled to people but I have always found God’s peace afterwards and have enjoyed deep fellowship with him as a result. It is not always possible to have perfect relationships, but we have do to what we can to put things right.
When you have done all you can then come close to God and he will draw near to you. He is drawn to those who are humble in heart and who are obedient to him. He will hear you and you will hear him too. So, Go and Come and I am sure George will be pleased, too!
- What stands in the way of you offering your gift at the “altar”
- Is there anyone you have offended to whom you need to apologise?
- What do you need to change to make relationships your number one priority?