Daily Devotional 2-13-20

Relationship, Not Rituals. 2/13/20
By Velma Tim

Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift. Matthew 5:23-24

When I was young in my faith in Christ, I had very abstract concepts of God. Yes, I knew God loved me but that was not a reality to me. I knew there was something called “a relationship with God” but that was just a mental accent. I could not see the practicality of it. To me, God was far removed from the daily realities of my life. Now, I have grown in my faith, to some extent, and can fully grasp the idea that God longs for a relationship with us. God greatly desires a relationship with us because even He is a Person who can be grieved, (Ephesian 4:30). 

Religious rituals had been an integral part of the Jews. They had different rituals to perform at different times. In fact, some of the rituals came with strict instructions to ensure their efficacy.  But, when Jesus came to the scene, His teachings did not only wreck the minds of the Pharisees but challenged and changed their long-held religious concepts. In this particular text, Jesus indicates that in the kingdom of God relationship is more important than a ritual. Jesus literally says relationship is first, ritual is second. 

Note that Jesus did not snub the ritual of giving. He only placed it in the right order relative to relationship. Therefore, prayer, bible study, fasting, giving, and any other spiritual discipline are all good, but they must not take the place and importance of a relationship. The rightfully observed spiritual discipline and ritual will prepare and position us to honor God and the relationships around us. Thus, in the kingdom of God, spiritual disciplines are not the goal; it’s the relationship with God and others.

Never get so spiritually high that you cannot connect with another human being.

I hope that love for one another will become the reason and the motivation for all we do in life.  How we relate to a person is more important than how rigorous and regular we may pray. I encourage you to let the constancy of your rituals lead to the constancy of your love for one another.

PRAYER: Holy Spirit, help me to become more loving in my pursuit of life.