Anger • Devotion 2

To All Priests
John Stone

“Therefore, if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there you remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.” Matthew 5:23-24 (NASB)

Did you know that you and I are priests to our God? What an honor! What a privilege to be allowed to serve the Lord of Heaven and Earth! We no longer burn animals on altars of stone, but the “soothing aromas” of our sacrifices, those of thanksgiving, praise, worship, service, and good works, still rise to Him in the same way that the smoke of the Old Testament sacrifices did. The priests under the old covenant were commanded to keep the fire on the altar burning continually; it was never to go out (Leviticus 6:12-13). In the same way, Jesus tells us that if we want to follow Him we are to deny ourselves, take up our crosses daily, and follow Him (Luke 9:23). As Jesus laid down (sacrificed) His rights and privileges and became a servant to all. We are to continually do the same and show the world what the sacrificial love of Christ is like (Colossians 1:24). What an impact we could make for the Lord in our families, communities, and nation if we could model real Christ-like love! To the unbelieving world, it would appear as strange as if we were slaughtering bulls and goats on a pile of rocks!

In Matthew 5:23-24, Jesus is not introducing a new idea. He is reaffirming the standard that has been in place since God first revealed it to His people through Moses back on the east side of the Jordan River. Priests who were to come to the altar to offer sacrifices were to be clean; they were to be washed. God gave a standard of what was required. Examples were made of priests who presumed to offer “strange fire” with the warning given for all time that those who would come near to the Lord should treat Him as holy (Leviticus 10:1-3).

From the beginning of time, He has been very specific about what is pleasing and what is presumptuous, who may “ascend the hill of the Lord” (Psalm 24:3-5) and who will be rejected like Cain (Genesis 4:3-7). If we are to present our life as an offering to the Lord, Who is holy and righteous, we need to be mindful of the way we present it. If we have dirt on our hands or mud on our face because we hurt another believer, we should go to that person, repent, and set things right with them before presuming to bring our offering to the Lord under false pretenses (James 4:8). God is not fooled by an outward show when our consciences are not clean (Hebrews 10:19-25), and neither is the world we are trying to reach with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. True sacrificial love is not hypocritical or two-faced (James 3:8-9). We cannot claim to love and serve God while injuring, backstabbing, or taking advantage of other people (1 John 4:20). He alone is worthy of receiving praise and honor and glory, and it is an indescribable privilege for us to be able to raise holy hands to the One who loved us first. We, as His chosen and holy priests, should be constantly offering up sacrifices of praise and thanksgiving on the altar of our hearts (Hebrews 13:15), but unless the priest is qualified the offering will be rejected. We need to make it a priority this week to seek out those with whom we need to reconcile. Pave the way with prayer. Ask the Lord to soften hearts (particularly our own) and allow us to find favor and forgiveness with those we have hurt (Romans 12:18).

We are called as royal, holy, and chosen, as priests to our God. There is no longer a curtain separating God from men because of the reconciling work of Jesus on the cross. He has given us the amazing privilege of being able to offer our lives as sacrifices to Him. Our God is holy and worthy of all our sacrifice, and He is jealous of our offerings. We must treat our position in Christ seriously and be careful not to let sin and disunity extinguish the fire on our life’s altar (Leviticus 6:12-13).

“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” 1 Peter 2:9 (NASB)

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