23 “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, 24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift. Matthew 5
Jesus’s example of offering a sacrifice upon the altar to God reveals a second Kingdom principle: the quality of our fellowship with God is conditional on our attitude toward other people. This means going out of our way to reconcile with others, prioritizing peace above acts of religious observance.
God cares deeply about the hearts of His people. We should reject anger, insults, and name-calling for the same reason we reject murder: Every person is made in the image of God, Genesis 9:6. Attitudes of hatred don’t just lead to acts of violence, Genesis 4:6–7, they are sins in and of themselves.
Having indicated how serious hatred and anger are, Jesus stresses the importance of seeking to resolve conflicts. His listeners would have been familiar with offering a gift at the altar as part of temple worship. It was once considered a sacred act. Jesus’ point is that even pious actions should be set aside until reconciliation can be made between two people in angry conflict. Matthew 5:24
A fellowship of people who resolve conflicts and do not harbor bitterness will bring joy to all its participants. Living Jesus’ kingdom principles has a great reward in this life as well.