“But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be liable to judgement; and if you insult a brother or sister, you will be liable to the council; and if you say, “You fool”, you will be liable to the hell of fire. So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift.” (Matthew 5:22-24)  My present ministry focuses on financial giving and encouraging greater generosity, so this text poses some interesting questions for me (and perhaps for you, as well!).  I think that it is safe to say that giving is always good.  Sharing with others is crucial to a life of discipleship.  However, at the same time, Jesus is saying here, I think, that our giving can never take the place of our relationships.  Giving is a sign for our love for God and neighbor but it can never take its place.  I also find it interesting that the act of giving might very well prompt a memory of our need for reconciliation with someone.  So, Jesus tells us, if that happens, seek the greater good: be restored to your sister or brother.  As Christians, we need to continue to repent of our sins.  Jesus calls us here to a more difficult standard.  If we would use giving as a way of avoiding reconciliation, then you and I are called to repent of our good works!  Strange, isn’t it?  We can turn wonderful things into bad if we forget the heart of our faith: love for God and neighbor.  So, as you write your check this week or you think about your electronic giving, is there someone with whom our Lord would call you to seek out?  We are most certainly called to lives of generosity and that generosity begins with our repentance and desire for the restoration of relationships.  Have a great week!