Forget What You’ve Heard
Pastor John Sloan
Murder. Is any crime more evil? The consequences thereof more irrevocable? Yet, Jesus seems to equate hatred toward a brother with the shedding of innocent life. How could he even make such a comparison? The answer is: To Jesus, the root of murder is anger and anger is murderous in principle. To Jesus, wishing someone were dead is tantamount to killing. Because it’s the heart that Jesus is ultimately concerned with, not simply behavior.
Questions for Discussion & Discovery
1. What is Jesus correcting when he mentions what was said “of old” (verse 21)?
2. Is calling someone a “fool” worse than every other insult? Why does Jesus seem to elevate this offense to such a serious level (verse 22)?
3. Why did Jesus spend so much time “opposing the self-righteousness of the righteous”? (Niebuhr)
4. What are some ways that self-righteousness rears its head in your life? How do you combat it?
5. In what sense can unresolved conflict stifle our worship of God? Is there someone in your life who “has something against you” (verse23) that you need to run after for reconciliation? What efforts are you willing to take to be restored?
6. Where do we find motivation to pursue those who have wronged us?
1. Read Matthew 5:21-22.
2. 01. The heart is what matters most to Jesus—what we are in the deepest recesses of our being—which is why we need a Savior.
3. “Lord, please restore to us the comfort of merit and demerit. Show us that there is at least something we can do. Tell us that at the end of the day there will at least be one redeeming card of our very own. Lord, if it is not too much to ask, send us to bed with a few shreds of self-respect upon which we can congratulate ourselves. But whatever you do, do not preach grace. Give us something to do, anything; but spare us the indignity of this indiscriminate acceptance.”
4. “Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil.” – Ephesians 4:26-27
5. “And the Spirit of God rushed upon Saul when he heard these words, and his anger was greatly kindled.” – Samuel 11:6
6. “There is no deeper pathos in the spiritual life of man than the cruelty of righteous people. If any one idea dominates the teachings of Jesus, it is his opposition to the self- righteousness of the righteous.” – Reinhold Neibuhr
7. 02. Anger, insults, and contempt are often the overflow of self-righteous hearts, a disdain for those who don’t live according to our rules.
8. Read Matthew 5:23-26.
9. 03. In the sight of God, the humble pursuit of peace is of greater value than the most visible display of worship.