We all know murder is wrong. God made sure His people understood that when He gave the Ten Commandments to Moses in Exodus 20. Even so, Jesus, in teaching His disciples in Matthew 5, wanted to expound on the law and taught not only that murder makes one liable to judgment but that being angry with your brother does so as well (Matt. 5:22)—not to mention the danger of hell-fire if you call your brother a “fool.” This teaching is then connected with our worship of God. In Matthew 5:23–24, Jesus says, “So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.”
If God is to accept our worship and look with favor on our sacrifice of praise, we must come before Him with humble, broken, contrite, trusting hearts, striving for peace with our church family. This principle is found throughout Scripture (Pss. 24:3–4; 51:16–17; Matt. 15:8; Rom. 12:18; Heb. 12:18–20). As disciples of Jesus Christ, we are to regularly examine our own hearts and our relationships, humbling ourselves, looking for the logs in our own eyes and confessing our sins to God and to one another. Pursuing peace and reconciliation with one another ought to be the goal of every Christian. No doubt at times it can be hard and may involve a lengthy process, but it is still worth pursuing. The very fact that our gracious God has provided a way of redemption and lasting peace for you and me through faith in Jesus should lead all of us to be loving, merciful, gracious, and eager to forgive and seek peace with others when necessary.