We live in a culture of revenge, retaliation, and resistance…a place where hurting people hurt people. But Jesus calls his followers to live an upside-down, counter-cultural world. Christians turn the other cheek, forgive those who have hurt us, love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. Instead of paying back our enemies, we push back self in order to demonstrate His love to the undeserving. - Pastor Dave
Open: Jesus finishes this section by focusing on retaliation and treatment of our enemies. Have you had an instance where you retaliated?
Read: Matthew 5:38-48; Romans 12:9-21
1. Jesus’ response to “an eye for an eye…” was to not resist the one who is evil. It carries the idea that we shouldn’t seek personal revenge, but instead go the extra mile for the person. Why do you think Jesus commands his followers to behave in this way?
2. These passages continue to prove Jesus’ point in Matthew 5:17-20 where he stated that, “He came not to abolish the law, but to fulfill it.” Thus, in some sense, he’s calling his followers to “go the extra mile” in every aspect of our lives. What experiences do you have that fit with what Jesus is saying about retaliation? Instead of retaliation, how can you go the “extra mile” in them?
3. We’re prone to hate our “enemy”, but it seems best to define enemy first. So, how would you define an “enemy”? What are characteristics of an enemy?
4. Why are we so inclined to hate our enemy? Think of some of your enemies, when someone becomes your enemy, how does your view change of them? Jesus calls us to overcome these desires to treat our enemies with less dignity and respect, but rather love them as we love ourselves. Give an example of how you can love one of your current enemies.
5. Not only are we to love our enemies, but we’re also to pray for them! Why do you think Jesus adds prayer here? What does prayer do to your heart for someone if you’re sincerely praying for them?
Pray: That God would soften your heart towards those who have wronged you and remind your heart of these truths that would lead to love and prayer for your enemies. Ask God to remind you of His ultimate love that He has shown us through Christ’s sacrifice on the cross while we were His enemies.
Memorize/Meditate: “But I say to you, ‘Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.’” Matthew 5:44-45