07.01.2018 | “1 John Week 7 (3.10-18)”
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Think of a time when you’ve witnessed a powerful act of kindness. What happened? What made it so powerful? How did that influence you the rest of the day?
Read Matthew 5:21-26.
When Dallas Willard, a popular author and theologian, wrote about the Sermon on the Mount, he stressed that Jesus touched on the issues of anger and hate first when it came to talking about living in the Kingdom of God. Jesus’ conversation moves from anger (initial “fight or flight” response to an event) to resentment/hate (ongoing distaste for a person that lasts beyond the initial event) and, ultimately, to contempt (uncare for the person, emphasized by the “fool” comment in the verse). Willard believes that Jesus sees overcoming the attitude and heart behind anger, hate, contempt, and resentment as being the crucial first step in Kingdom transformation.
First, discuss a time when you experienced strong anger toward a person, situation, or event. What emotions come to mind? How did it impact the way you treated the person who provoked it or the people around you? How much longer after the event did it affect you?
In light of what’s been shared, why do you think Jesus places so much weight on anger and hate when talking about the Christian life?
Willard points out that pride and self-righteousness are often at the root of ongoing anger and hate towards a person or situation. What do you see as the relationship between anger and pride? (Hint: how we struggle to let go of things, especially when we feel disrespected)
How does Christ’s example of self-sacrificial love on the cross inform how we go about surrendering our anger and resentments? (Hint: empathy, forgiveness, and humility)
Where is one place in your life that you could use some release in the area of anger, resentment, or hate? What is a step you can take this week towards growing or healing in that relationship or situation?
Getting Out of the Hole
Remember this week that we are invited to take part in the reconciling and redeeming of our world through a transformed heart distinguished by the high quality of its Christlike love for others and the healing actions that flow from it.
As you go throughout the week, meditate on where you can be a source of peace, healing, and reconciliation in your relational world. Take one step or have one conversation that moves that area of your life closer to the Kingdom described by Jesus.