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Matthew 5:23-24

Worship Fitness

23 Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; 24 Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.


Fitness programs have become a popular pass time in the United States. People have begun to realize the importance of physical fitness to their health and longevity. Athletic competition is also popular, and we all recognize the importance of being physically fit to play on the local softball team etc.

Musicians also need to maintain a physical fitness, though we may use different parts of the anatomy. Vocalists need to exercise and protect the vocal chords, pianists exercise their fingers and coordination, drummers have to keep their wrists and ankles flexible, and those who play wind instruments must develop lip and tongue muscles.

There is also a need to be fit for relationships. Certainly, we could not have a close relationship with someone with whom we had nothing in common. We have to learn about the interests of others and be able to discuss them, in order to have a really close relationship. Nor could we get along with someone who is disgusted by our immorality. There may be several other factors that determine our fitness to enter into a relationship with another person.

Our relationship with God also requires that we be fit for that relationship. Jesus explained in the previous verses that God does not like it when we show little respect for the worth of another person. How could we come to Him, then, if we have offended another person or are engaged in a dispute with someone? How could He accept worship from us when our hearts are charged with wrath, envy, and malice or when we have filled another's heart with the same?

Jesus teaches us that God does not want worship from us when we are spiritually unfit. Isaiah stated the same principle: "To what purpose [is] the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? saith the LORD: I am full of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he goats. When ye come to appear before me, who hath required this at your hand, to tread my courts? Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; [it is] iniquity, even the solemn meeting. Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth: they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear [them]. And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood. Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil; Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow. Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool." (Isaiah 1:11-18) Our offerings, whether they are animals, cash, songs of praise, or prayer are unacceptable to God when our lives are full of sin.

God wants us to reconcile our differences with our neighbors before we worship. Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God, and only His children have valid relationships with Him. Jesus has again shown us the need for a Savior. How many people have we offended in our lifetime? Who are they and where are they? The older we get the more difficult it is to keep track of them. For most of us, there is no way to contact them and reconcile all of those differences. Our sins against others have separated us from God.

Then, we must also ask ourselves how much more important it is for those who lead worship to be fit for worship. "Take thou away from me the noise of thy songs; for I will not hear the melody of thy viols. But let judgment run down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream." (Amos 5:23-24) We are unfit to worship!

Our fitness to approach God can only come through our relationship with Jesus Christ. Only when our life is hidden in Him can we have the righteousness that makes us fit. As Isaiah prophesied, "Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool."

Before The Throne:

Pray that God will help you to be reconciled to anyone whom you have offended. Ask His forgiveness for those offenses. Claim the blood of Jesus as your only qualification to come before Him, then come boldly to His throne and receive His grace. Take the time today to worship Him in spirit and in truth.

For Further Study:

(v.23)
** thou. Matt 8:4; Matt 23:19; Deut 16:16-17; 1Sam 15:22; Isa 1:10-17; Hos 6:6; Amos 5:21-24; ** rememberest. Gen 41:9; Gen 42:21-22; Gen 50:15-17; Lev 6:2-6; 1Kgs 2:44; Lam 3:20; Ezek 16:63; Lu 19:8;

(v.24) ** there. Matt 18:15-17; Job 42:8; Prov 25:9; Mark 9:50; Rom 12:17-18; 1Cor 6:7-8; 1Tim 2:8; Jas 3:13-18; Jas 5:16; 1Pet 3:7-8; ** and then. Matt 23:23; 1Cor 11:28;

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