What makes a person good? How do we determine who is good? We observe. We look at their actions. We listen to what they say. We look at how they influence those around them. Are we good? Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

This week we dig a little deeper in the passage we have been studying. Here it is to refresh our memories;

Matthew 5:21-26, “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, `Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, `Raca, ‘ is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, `You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.

   “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.

   “Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still with him on the way, or he may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison. I tell you the truth, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.

How good are we at determining someone’s motives? We think we can identify when someone has the wrong motives. We can observe them and usually figure out what they are up to. Some though are pretty crafty. Their deceit is hidden. It takes careful observation but our hope is eventually their motive shows through. We see two kinds of people in life, those who have the interest of others on their heart and those who only care about themselves. We call the ones who care for others good.

What happens when you are the cause of an ontrack incident? Do you take responsibility? Do you reconcile things with the others involved? Do you make the effort? The first step to having the interests of others as our motives is taking responsibility for our actions.

We are involved in many altercations in our lives, some are intentional and some are not. It is the ones that we do intentionally that we need to deal with. Intentionally causing the difficulties for others identifies a selfish personality trait. We can be selfish people and focused only on what is best for us. That is not the way to lead a full and satisfying life. Guilt is the byproduct of intentionally doing harm to someone.

I have heard it many times at the track, “I don’t get mad, I get even.” Do you ever stop to consider the intent of others? Many times we don’t, we just figure they did it on purpose. And if they did then there needs to be payback. Things are not always what they seem. Our perception does not always indicate what really happened. We need to take a little more time and think things through before we decide to respond.

I remember a team that was always thought guilty. Anytime an ontrack incident and they were anywhere close they were the cause. I took some time to talk with the crew chief and asked how that made him feel. He shared that his favorite statement became; “Upon further review.” When the officials looked at the video evidence and determined the real cause the blame was shifted to where it really belonged. By that time though minds had already been convinced and the facts were not going to change their minds.

When we take a closer look at this passage we see a reference to giving gifts and the condition of our heart. Our gift is not acceptable to God if our heart contains guilt. Our gift is not acceptable if our heart condition reveals some trouble. Galatians 5:19-21 helps us identify those things;

Galatians 5:19-21; The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God

When these conditions are present in our life we are separated from God. Jesus tells us that we need to take care of the condition of our heart before we can approach the altar and make an offering. Think of it this way, God doesn’t want our gifts if he doesn’t have our hearts. We cannot harbor animosity in our hearts toward others and expect to be right with God.

When we compile this with our lesson last week we start to see a pattern. Jesus said we don’t have the right to devalue what God values. He then said if we have, we need to straighten it out before we can come before God. God wants our heart to be in tune with His.

It can be difficult to reconcile things, but follow me on this. God doesn’t ask us to change the heart of someone else, He asks us to change our heart. He asks us to recognize that we have harbored sin in our heart. He asks us to take responsibility for that sin and do something about it. He asks us to reconcile it. We do that through the process of seeking forgiveness for the things in our hearts that don’t agree with God. We need to seek forgiveness from those we have sinned against. God doesn’t require that they forgive us but that we seek it. When we humble ourselves to seek forgiveness we move closer to God.

Let us take a look in our hearts and then a look around. Are there some things we need to reconcile? If we hope to be close to God and experience His blessing then we cannot harbor ill will in our hearts. Let’s do some house cleaning this week and get our hearts right with God.

Until next time, remember God loves you and Jesus is Lord over Auto Racing! God Bless. Remember, that your prayerful support helps us continue this ministry. Thank You.