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Monday, April 23, 2018

Why should we love our enemies? And who is my enemy anyway?

Last week's study encouraged us to (at least try to) love our enemies and be perfect and merciful like God. Wow! This week's looks at the passages Matthew places between the Beatitudes and "love your enemies." Just maybe, these passages will give us more reason, or more practical advice, on why and how to obey. Maybe...

(20) What’s Your Purpose?

Read Matthew 5:13-16 Last week (straight after the Beatitudes), we read we should love our enemies and become more like God. Does this give any other reason why those pronounced “blessed” in the beatitudes to love their enemies?
1.       What is the difference between letting our light shine, and forcing others to see how good we are?
2.       In a world with chilies, ginger, curry, sugar (always sugar!), coffee and more, what “flavor” would describe you, and what purpose does that flavor serve? (Salt served to preserve.)
Read Matthew 5:17-20
1.       What purpose does the law serve? (Read James 2:10 – We read James 2:1-9 last week too  - interesting J )
2.       What about prophets’ purpose? (Read Revelation 22:18-19)
3.       What purpose is Jesus claiming for his life?
4.       What purpose do the Scribes and Pharisees claim for their lives?
5.       Read Matthew 5:20,48, Luke 6:36 What is supposed to be our purpose?
6.       Why do we still believe we will inherit the kingdom if we can’t fulfil these verses? Why might the people listened still have believed? (Read Matthew  5:6)
Read Matthew 5:21-26
1.       What’s the difference between being angry and being angry with your brother? Does this really only mean Christian brothers?
2.       Some translations add “without cause” in verse 22. It’s not in the oldest copy, but it is included in the most widely circulated texts.
a.       How much difference does including/excluding the phrase make?
b.      If we imagine the “unforgiving servant” was surely angry (Matthew 18:21-35), how good do you think we are at defining justifiable “cause” for anger?
3.       How literally are we supposed to take verse 22?
a.       Do you have a list of “forbidden” insults? If so, what about the not-forbidden ones?
b.      Is giving someone the “silent treatment” always better than voicing your complaint?
c.       Jesus seemed pretty angry in the Temple (Matthew 21:12), and he called people fools (Matthew 23:17; Paul calls the Galatians foolish too – Galatians 3:1). Why was it okay for him? When is it okay for us?
4.       How literally are we supposed to take verses 23-25?
a.       Would you avoid church because you couldn’t get hold of someone you needed to forgive?
b.      Would you always settle out of court, even if you were innocent?
Read Matthew 5:27-32. How literal do you want to be now?
1.       Jewish interpretation often viewed lust as breaking the commandment against coveting your neighbor’s wife. How is this different from interpreting Sabbath rules as meaning no healing and no picking grain?
2.       Jewish tradition often used hyperbole for emphasis. What is the “cut it off” passage emphasizing?
3.       Deuteronomy allowed divorce (Read Deuteronomy 24:1). Should we? How carefully should we word our laws? And is Jesus using hyperbole for emphasis again?
Read Matthew 5:33-37 What’s the difference between oaths, swearing… and using something that’s not a God-word?

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