These words, spoken by Jesus to the pharisees on several occasions, are incredibly powerful.
In the Old Testament, the Hebrews needed to atone for their sins by offering the appropriate offerings/ sacrifices. People would come with bulls, rams, goats, birds. The occasional sheep or two. Ba-a-a. And there were soooo many occasions for this, if you look at Leviticus it's overwhelming! I can just imagine a conversation between two neighbors:
"Hey there, Jereboam. I think your sheep have been looking a little nervous lately."
"Well hey there, Jedididah. Of course they do, the annual sheep offering is coming up! Yeah, the bulls and oxen are partying because they didn't get picked for the feast last night."
Ok, so I made up the sheep offering.
Anyway, there were many regulations and rituals to follow regarding this whole offering thing. But what is Jesus's take on all this? (paraphrasing here) "If you are about to offer a sacrifice and suddenly remember that you have a quarrel with your brother, leave your offering there and go and make things right with him. Then come back and give your offering." -Matthew 5:23
What is it God really wants from us?
To take care of our relationships with each other in a loving way. I know from personal experience that I just don't grow very much spiritually in times of fighting with my own brother (poor Daniel!).
It's like we come to him with our 2,000 rams, 536 cows and 487 doves all full of ourselves and boasting," Look what I'm giving to the Lord!" And God says, dismissively, "Yeah... *waves hand* I made those. Go apologize to your bro, then we'll talk."
...Darn it. God notices when we don't treat people with love. *sigh. Guess I better go apologize to Daniel for making fun of his Napolean Dynamite talking plush figures earlier. ... :)