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
Jesus isn’t just looking for people to follow rules. He is aiming for hearts. That means that we should not talk one way and live another. Many are good at putting on the facade of Christianity and then living contrary to their spiritual commitments. May we never allow that to happen. Live a life of consistency. That is what God calls his people to do. - Pastor Dave
Open: Have you ever made a commitment only to regret it afterward? Describe the situation: What was the end result?
Read: Matthew 5:27-37; Exodus 20:14; Deuteronomy 24:1-4; Ephesians 5; 2 Timothy 2:22; James 5:12
1. What makes living as “Kingdom people” so difficult? Spiritually, what does it mean to be real? How is the Sermon on the Mount a call to authentic, genuine and radical kingdom living?
2. Jesus gives six tests (commands) to help us understand the sincerity of faith. How does superficiality move into our spiritual journeys? How does Jesus contrast society’s interpretation of the law with His radical teaching about Kingdom living? In what ways do you see these same contrasts today with God’s Word?
3. Define lust: How do you see an overwhelming toleration of lust in society today? Chuck Swindoll said that “the #1 secret problem in the church today is lust.” Do you find that true or not? In what ways do you struggle with lust? Why do you think that Jesus uses provocative language (“if your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away” Matthew 5:29) to describe how we ought to deal with lust? Read 2 Timothy 2:22. What are some steps we can take with the lust we battle?
4. Describe the three Jewish teachings concerning divorce and remarriage (Shammai, Hillel, and Akiba). What is Jesus’ focus in verses 31-32? In what ways has the sacredness and permanence of marriage been compromised today? In what ways should marriage be a reflection of Christ and the Kingdom?
5. Describe oaths in the first century: Why should we be cautious with the oaths and commitments we make? In what ways do we see “yes” and “no’s” manipulated and dishonest? What commitments do you struggle with today? How do we as Kingdom people reflect Jesus’ unwavering commitment to His promises?
Pray: Pray that you would reflect Kingdom pursuits and commitments. In the areas where you may be falling short, pray that God will strengthen you for the task.
Memorize/Meditate: So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. 2 Timothy 2:22
Anger in and of itself is not wrong. In fact, it’s initially a response, not a choice. It serves as a warning light telling us there might be something wrong. What we then choose to do with that anger is a decision between faith and sin. - Pastor Dave
Open: Have you ever had a situation where you were overcome with anger? How did you respond? What was the result?
Read: Matthew 5:21-26; Matthew 15:17-19; Ephesians 4:16; Proverbs 14:29
1. How have you seen anger personified in culture today? Why do you think we are such an “angry” society? How is anger a secondary emotion? What are some of the causes of anger that you have experienced? How does anger tend to take control?
2. Jesus didn’t say a lot about anger. What stands out the most about anger in Jesus’ sermon on the mount? Why does He equate anger with murder? How do we view murder as the ultimate sin? What connection does anger have with murder?
3. Describe the progression of anger: How does anger progress from “raca” (insults) to defining someone as a fool? What does “fool” mean? How does increased anger equal increased liability? In what way do we attempt to play the role of God in our anger?
4. In what way is anger an alarm in our lives? How does it reveal what’s happening in us? What are some ways we can overcome anger?
5. Why is forgiveness so difficult? What is our motivation for forgiveness? How is anger an opportunity for faith? Pray that you would allow your moments of anger to become moments of faith.
Pray: Pray for the courage to release your anger to God.
Memorize/Meditate: You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment. But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment… Matthew 5:21-22
It is interesting that Jesus’ first message, His inaugural address, is a hard-hitting, in-your-face, shocking message against the superficiality of the day. The Sermon on the Mount is meant to confront the different masks we hide behind and to move us from spiritual shallowness into authentic Kingdom living.
Open: Have you ever felt like you were hiding behind a mask of superficiality? Describe a time you experienced a lack of authenticity: What was the result?
Read: Matthew 5:1-16; Matthew 4; John 15:18-19
1. Describe how superficiality was seen in the first century: How can religiosity perpetuate superficiality? Why does Jesus use such strong language in the Sermon on the Mount?
2. The Jews had been waiting for hundreds of years for the Messiah to come. What were they expecting the Messiah to do? How had their waiting for the Kingdom produced superficiality? For us, how can waiting for Christ’s second coming cause us to grow complacent and stale?
3. How is Jesus’ description of the Kingdom different than the Jews expected? Why did Jesus come to create a spiritual kingdom before a physical kingdom?
4. Matthew 5:2-12 is called the Beatitudes. Each of these verses begin with a declaration of happiness. When you read these verses, they don’t seem “happy.” Describe how we find happiness in each of these statements: How does each of these Beatitudes build a picture of the gospel? How does a right attitude toward God lead to beautiful action for people?
5. As you look in the mirror of these “ethics of the Kingdom,” which do you struggle with the most? Describe the value of salt and light: In what ways are you being salt and light in your neighborhood, workplace, school or family?
Pray: Pray that you would be consistent salt and light in your relationships by living with the Kingdom in mind.
Memorize/Meditate: You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. Matthew 5:13
There is no denying that all we have comes from God. As a result, faith and finances are deeply intertwined. The problem is that the more you have, the more it can have you. So God established tithing as a pattern of financial stewardship. Tithing removes the power that money can have over us and realigns our faith with the God who gives all that we need. - Pastor Dave
Open: Have you ever given money to a gospel cause? Did you have any reservations? Why or why not? How did it make you feel? What sacrifice did you need to make in order to fulfill your giving commitment?
Read: Luke 16; Genesis 14:18-20; Leviticus 27:30-32; Deuteronomy 26:10-11; 1 Corinthians 16:1-2
1. Why is giving such a difficult topic to address among Christians? Why do you think the Bible spends so much time talking about money and stewardship? Describe the context of Luke 16: Who is listening and what parables did Jesus just share with the crowd (Luke 15)?
2. The fundamental principle of biblical stewardship is that God owns everything. Can you think of a verse that proves this truth? In what ways do we act as owners instead of stewards? Describe the role of steward:
3. Jesus gives a parable on stewardship in Luke 16. Verse 1 it says that the steward was “wasting his possessions.” In what ways do you waste money and possessions today? List some frivolous ways we spend money. How does our spending prove whom we are serving?
4. In the parable, what changed the steward’s response to the master’s money? What did he do in response? How was this steward looking out for his future? Why does Jesus commend the steward for his actions?
5. Jesus describes the connection between faithfulness and stewardship in verse 10. While not explicitly, how is a “tithe/tenth” an example of being faithful in little? Describe the “tithing” process: Why do so many Christians struggle with tithing? How does the New Testament describe generosity as the heart behind giving? What are some things God might be asking you to “uncommit” from in order to commit to faithful giving as a steward? Pray that you would be so overwhelmed with God’s compassion for you that you would be compelled to fulfill God’s commission through you.
Pray: Pray for opportunities to talk about God’s compassion with others.
Memorize/Meditate: Now concerning the collection for the saints: as I directed the churches of Galatia, so you also are to do. On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper, so that there will be no collecting when I come. 1 Corinthians 16:1-2 O
Your commitments shape your life more than anything else. They can define or destroy you. But for every commitment there is also something that we must “Un-Commit” from. In our Christian journey, it is sometimes harder to UnCommit, to set aside something for the sake of Christ. We will naturally commit to the things that we perceive to be most important. - Pastor Dave
Open: Have you ever felt stuck by a commitment you made that you wish you could get out of? What made you commit to it? How did you eventually get out of it?
Read: Luke 14; Luke 9
1. In Luke 14, Jesus is invited to the home of a religious ruler. While there, Jesus does something pretty interesting; he heals someone on the Sabbath. Why does Jesus do this? What point is Jesus attempting to make?
2. In Luke 14:7-14, Jesus shares two parables related to feasts and banquets. What do these parables mean? Describe the place of honor in the Jewish culture of the day? How would Jesus’ parables be in direct contrast to their understanding of banquets? In what ways do these examples run perpendicular to our viewpoints today?
3. In Jesus’ parable in Luke 14:15-24, the invitees make excuses for their planned absences. Describe these excuses: In what ways do we make excuses in our commitments for Christ? What does it mean that there is always something to “uncommit” to when we make a commitment? How have you seen this true in your life?
4. In what ways must we “uncommit” in order to commit to Christ? How does Jesus describe commitment in Luke 14:25-33? Does this type of commitment scare you? Why or why not?
5. How do our desires reveal our commitments? Is it true that we naturally commit to the things we perceive as most important? Describe the following statement: “When God becomes our greatest desire all other commitments fall into proper place.” How have you seen this true in your life?
Pray: Pray that you would have the courage to “uncommit” from the things in life that are holding you back from following Christ fully.
Memorize/Meditate: So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple. Luke 14:33