#310 – PURSUE LOVE AND PUT AWAY ANGER (19/3/21)
“Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still together on the way, or your adversary may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison. Truly I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.” (Matthew 5:25-26)
This week we have been considering Jesus’ teaching on murder, hatred and reconciliation from Matthew 5:21-26. We have seen that avoiding murder is not enough! We are to avoid ungodly anger and pursue healthy relationships through reconciliation.
For many, this is a very hard thing to do. Many have suffered and have been treated very badly. Forgiveness is never easy. Forgiveness is handing the right to condemn and judge over to God. It’s to free ourselves from the prison of bitterness. I’ve heard it said that bitterness is like drinking poison hoping that someone else will die!
Paul and Silas set us a great example in the book of Acts. We read of their harsh treatment in Philippi,
‘The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten with rods. After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. When he received these orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks.’ (Acts 16:22-24)
However, their response is not revenge. They respond in mercy.
‘About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God… Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the …prison doors flew open… The jailer woke up … he drew his sword and was about to kill himself … But Paul shouted, “Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!” (Extract from Acts 16:25-28)
They treated this jailer as Jesus had treated them - with mercy. This all comes to a beautiful conclusion. The jailor and his household become Christians and we read,
'…The jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his household were baptised. The jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them; he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God—he and his whole household.’ (Acts 16:33-34)
Only those who will pursue love and put away anger will experience the kind of beautifully restored relationships that we see in Acts 16. In a world that holds on to people’s past mistakes. A world that condemns others and writes them off. Let us show the kind of love and reconciliation that the world needs - that which is modelled on the gospel, as Paul writes,
Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:19-21)
COMMUNITY GROUP STUDY - PURSUE LOVE AND PUT AWAY ANGER
It might be good to begin with notices. Please share from this week’s Church News.
What has brought you joy in the news this week?
On Sunday Nev spoke about how we are to PURSUE LOVE AND PUT AWAY ANGER. Jesus taught,
I) DO NOT MURDER
“You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.” (Matthew 5:21)
Recent killings in the news show us that anger and murder continue to have a huge impact on our lives. Jesus is making reference to the Sixth Commandment (Exodus 20:13; Deut. 5:18).
II) LOVE FULFILS THE LAW
As we saw last week, Jesus said,
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfil them.” (Matthew 5:17)
Jesus is showing us the true heart of this command is to value human life and pursue reconciliation. It seems that the Pharisees and teachers of the law were emphasising that murder was the important thing to avoid. However, God is interested in the heart because it's from the heart that the act of murder flows. Therefore, Jesus continues,
‘But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.’ (Matthew 5:22)
Jesus is taking the Old Testament and showing how it is to be applied in light of His coming. Jesus raises the standard – we are not to murder, but we are also to refrain from unrighteous anger. As Paul writes,
The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,”and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbour as yourself.”Love does no harm to a neighbour. Therefore love is the fulfilment of the law.’ (Romans 13:9-10)
Therefore, it's only as we are positive and actually pursue love, that we are actually keeping God's command as He intended. Christians are to take the initiative in pursuing love and peace (See 5:9). Jesus continues,
“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift..." (Matthew 5:23-24)
1. Did God speak to you about anything in particular from Sunday's message or the blogs this week?
2. Nev shared the difference between righteous and unrighteous anger; righteous anger is limited to 'anger at what makes God angry; it's anger that is rightly measured and controlled.' Do you struggle with unrighteous anger? If so, would you like to share any examples that might help the group?
3. James wrote,
'My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.' (James 1:19-20)
In light of this text, how does the Father want you to change?
4. Do you want prayer for anything?
Serving, Investing and inviting
The way we express anger and attempt reconciliation will be key in our witness for Jesus. Let's take a moment to share and pray about how we are serving, investing and inviting into our community.
1) Who has God put into your life that we could pray for together?
2) How are you planning to serve invest and invite?
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