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Summary: God would rather have a broken life than a beautiful lamb. He would rather have a surrendered man or a woman than scads of money. He would rather have us leave and make peace than lift our hands in praise when we’re in conflict with someone.

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What to Do When Someone’s Mad at You

Matthew 5:23-24

Rev. Brian Bill

11/19/06

I had the honor of hearing the Messiah give an amazing message on the side of a mountain last year near my hometown of Capernaum [show picture]. I was very moved by His words and at the same time was troubled by what He taught. Actually that’s what a sermon should do in our lives – it should comfort and convict us. I liked how he gave it to the hypocrites, but as you heard last week, we all have pieces of timber protruding from our eyeballs [hold up 2x4]. I was in agony when Jesus described how being angry with someone is tantamount to an act of terrorism against them.

Just when I was reeling from this revelation, Jesus added these words in the next two verses: “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.” I immediately thought of some people who are mad at me but then I just shook it off. I mean, if they’re mad, it’s their problem, right? Well, not really. Let me tell you what happened.

It was expected that men would make the journey to Jerusalem three different times a year. I took a trip a short while ago so I could be there on the Day of Atonement. This was not easy to do since I live up north in Capernaum and the capital is down south [show map]. It’s approximately the distance between Pontiac and Springfield. This trip took several days but I was pretty pumped to come and worship, especially since my heart was so full after hearing Jesus preach. I was hoping that I might run into Him again. Other years I just purchased a sacrifice outside the Temple but this time I brought a lamb with me. I really wanted to offer my best to the Lord. Jerusalem was very congested when I arrived and I knew I had a long wait in front of me before I could enter the Temple with my offering. After walking for three long days, I was fine with standing in line because it gave me a chance to rest and to prepare myself for worship.

I’ve heard that in your culture some people don’t bring anything to church with them. I don’t really get this because we were expected to bring something of value as a way to show how much we value God. Listen to what God says in Exodus 25:2: “Tell the Israelites to bring me an offering. You are to receive the offering for me from each man whose heart prompts him to give.” May I encourage you to come with something to offer? You don’t have to bring a lamb but God is pleased when His people give their tithes, their time, and their talents to Him. Romans 12:1 teaches that the best worship is the offering of ourselves. This is not a burden but actually a blessing. The words of Psalm 66:13-15 were ringing in my ears as I eagerly anticipated approaching the Almighty: “I will come to your temple with burnt offerings and fulfill my vows to you -- vows my lips promised and my mouth spoke when I was in trouble. I will sacrifice fat animals to you and an offering of rams; I will offer bulls and goats.”

Finally, after waiting so long, it was my turn to worship! Just as I’m about to offer my little lamb to the priest, for some reason my former friend Levi comes to mind. I try to shake it off but I can’t do it. Why is this coming up now? I’m ready to make my offering! The people behind me are getting impatient and some are beginning to sigh. The priest is looking at me with a quizzical look. I take another step forward but I can’t seem to take another one. Then the words of Jesus come back to me and I know what I’m supposed to do and yet I begin to bargain with God.

Have you ever done that? “God, why can’t I just offer my sacrifice now since I’m here and I’ll make it right with Levi when I get back home? Do I really have to do this? I don’t have a problem with him; he’s got a problem with me. He should be the one to seek me out since he has the grudge.”

Realizing that this is my opportunity to live out the words of my Lord, I picked up my lamb and put it on layaway, asking the priest to hold it until I returned. I then turned around, made my way out of the Temple, going against the flow of people coming to worship, and headed back on the road to Capernaum. Because I loved the Lord so much I wanted to do what He said, irregardless of the cost and the inconvenience. As I made my way back home, I remembered that Levi must really have been upset with me because he had basically unplugged from corporate worship and had stopped fellowshipping with others.

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