Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace" (Eph. 4:3). We looked at this text a couple of weeks ago and while we will not take it up again, we will deal with its implications. One of the realities of our walks with Jesus is the problem of sin. It is not popular to talk about sin and yet it is a very real cancer on our souls and a destructive force in our relationships with one another. If we would be right with God and with one another we need to do battle with sin. This week I want us to consider one dimension of that in our relationship with God and with one another, and that is, what are we to do when we offend one another?
Several years ago while I was hiking the Colorado Trail I got quite a surprise when I reached the summit of Searle Pass. I had dropped my pack, sat down and taken off my boots when suddenly I was startled by the sound of huffing and growling coming up behind me. I turned, jumped to my feet and saw an angry badger making his way toward me! Apparently I had invaded his territory and parked my carcass not far enough away from his domicile. I snapped a couple of pictures, picked up my gear and then backed off down the trail. He went and stood guard over his den. He seemed reconciled to my presence as long as I kept my new distance!
Relationships with people are not always so easy. When we offend someone, just backing off doesn't seem to resolve the problem or reconcile the relationship. And yet we cannot go through life without offending or hurting someone. What are we to do?
Jesus has some clear instructions about what we are to do when the Holy Spirit brings to our attention that we have offended someone; they are clear but not easy. Jesus does not guarantee that if we keep His Word in these matters our relationships will be fully reconciled and restored, but He does tell us that our relationship with God will be. Read Matthew 5:21-26.
1. Our text this week is found in a portion of the Sermon on the Mount that concerns our personal righteousness. What does Jesus say in Matthew 5:17-20 that sets the context for our text today?
2. Jesus said, "You have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You shall not murder.'" What is he talking about here?
3. In verse 22 how does Jesus interpret the commandment not to murder? And what do you think He wants us to know?
* Look up I John 3:11-15. How does this passage reflect what Jesus' said in today's text?
4. Jesus shifts the focus entirely in verse 23. What is His focus of attention now?
5. What are His instructions in verses 23-24? How would you put them in your own words?
6. In verse 24, what is the important principle about our relationship with God and with one another?
* Do you believe we are to follow Jesus' instructions even if we are sure the person we have offended will not react or respond well?
7. What has been your experience with these instructions of Jesus? Have you known the Holy Spirit to convict you about someone you have offended? Have you done what Jesus tells us to do? What was the outcome?
8. What is the lesson of verses 25-26?
9. The Apostle Paul's testimony in Acts 24:16 touches on this teaching from Jesus. Read that text. How does that testimony add to your understanding of the application of Jesus' instructions?
10. Is there anyone you need to go and speak to? If so, when will you do it?
11. Why do you think these instructions from Jesus are not bad news but good news to us?
God be with you,