“If thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee;
“Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.” – Matthew 5:23, 24
These words from the Sermon on the Mount are very familiar to us. In their obvious meaning they teach us the futility of expecting a blessing from our heavenly Father if we are unwilling to show brotherly good will to others. There are requirements connected with giving.
In its letter the text refers to the offerings brought by Israel to the great altar in the temple court, the animals, birds, and fruits of the harvest. And in the detailed Levitical laws concerning these offerings it is made clear that it is not man who confers a favor upon God by his offerings; it is man who is blessed by God if his offerings are accepted. Therefore if man is to be blessed, he must give as God requires. And the first requirement of worthy giving, the Lord tells us, is that a man be reconciled to his brother. Prayers, church-going, contributions toward religion, ceremonies, the reciting of creeds have no honor to the Lord in them unless one does good in his daily life.