Matthew – Day 32 – You Fool!

 In Bible Studies, The Book of Matthew

lease begin by reading the Shema out loud and continue trying to memorize it.

“Hear, O Israel. The LORD is our God. The LORD alone. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. Amen.”

Also, recite The Beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-12).

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the land. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

Traditionally, a rabbi’s teaching of the text (scripture) must follow the interpretation of that same text, given by a rabbi with authority or s’mikhah. The honor of s’mikhah was given to a few, exceptional teachers who had been recognized by at least two other rabbis as having special understanding of scripture from God. These rabbis with s’mikhah could teach their own interpretation of the Law. The most common teaching method used by rabbis with this authority was saying, “You have heard it said… but I tell you…”

Does this sound familiar?

Today we begin our study of how Jesus tried to explain the true meaning of the commandments. He tried to point out that it never was about keeping a list of rules – God always wanted a pure heart, a restored heart.

Read Matthew 5:21-22 (out loud).

The sixth commandment in Exodus 20:13 said, “You shall not murder.” This commandment wasn’t simply about not killing people. God’s intent was never that people would have such hatred against each other that they would kill each other emotionally and spiritually, but stop short of killing them physically. Jesus explained that God’s intent was for us not to be angry with our brother. By avoiding anger towards our brother, we make sure that we are never on the path that leads to murder.

Also, the disciples had always heard not to call someone “Raca,” which was a derogatory term, but Jesus tells them not to even call someone a “fool.”

In today’s world, “fool” has been substituted with “idiot” and “moron.” These are common words that people say about others. Jesus said that we are in danger of the fires of hell if we put people down like this. Why is this such a big offense?

In his book entitled, Discipleship, Dietrich Bonhoeffer noted, “The angry words bursting out of us, which we take so lightly, reveal that we do not respect the other person, that we view ourselves to be superior, and that we thus value our own lives more than the other’s.”

Again, it is a heart thing. It comes down to our attitude about others, which ultimately impacts how we treat them. To God, that is a big thing.

Read Matthew 5:23-24 (out loud).

God thinks that this is so important that He does not want you to give your offering to Him when you know that you have a problem between you and your brother (or sister) in Christ.

Read John 13:34-35 (out loud).

Our relationship with each other is how the world sees God and knows that we are disciples of Jesus. We fail to consider that our treatment of others might prevent someone from being drawn to Him. Two of the main reasons that some Jewish people give for not believing that Jesus is the Messiah are: (1) that we, as His followers, do not obey our Lord’s teachings, and (2) we treat one another so poorly.

Read Matthew 5:25-26 (out loud). 

We are a very litigious society — filing lawsuits over the tiniest of things. Jesus explained that we are not to be like the world – solving our problems in court. We are to care more about people than possessions, which will hopefully result in settling our differences OUTSIDE of a court room. Remember we are to be peacemakers (Matthew 5:9). Our hope is that this difference will draw others to God.

Read 1 Corinthians 6:1-7 (out loud).

Paul addressed this problem of Christians going to a secular court to settle disputes between themselves. “Does a Christian sue a Christian, and do this before unbelievers?” (6:6) He explained that it would be better for us to be wronged or cheated than to bring our disputes to a secular court to settle a disagreement between brothers in Christ. This is definitely something for us to consider.

Can you imagine how different our world could be if people did not constantly wound each other with words? Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we chose to build each other up instead?

Can you imagine how different things would be if we would listen to those with differing opinions? Wouldn’t it be great if we could discuss those differences and learn from each other? It doesn’t mean that we have to change our opinion – or even persuade them to change theirs – but maybe we could understand each other a little bit better.

Finally, when disagreements are so great that they require a decision by a judge in a court of law, wouldn’t it be an incredible witness if two Christians could come to agreement without having to go to court?

We don’t realize how we have put ourselves in the center of our own universe. Jesus said, “Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength and love your neighbor as yourself.” He will later say, “In everything, do to others what you would have them do to you.” These are two of the most well-known Christian principles, yet we still keep ourselves (instead of God) as the focus… and we do not treat others as we would have them treat us. It is a heart issue.

We have to begin working on the condition of our hearts. It will be gradual, but we have to start somewhere.

So how is the purity of your heart when it comes to anger, put downs, and arguing? Are you living differently enough from the world that they know you are a disciple of Jesus? Do you value people over things? Is there anything you need to change in your life because of Jesus’ teachings today?

Talk to God if you need to repent or ask Him to help you become more like Jesus. Remember, when we make a change, that really is a great witness for what Jesus has done for us!

Ray Vander Laan
Dietrich Bonhoeffer Discipleship
Stephen Willis’ Discipleship materials


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Matthew Bible Study Series Day 31Matthew Bible Study Series Day 33