+ In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Opening (A Collect for Peace – Tuesday)
O God, the author of peace and lover of concord, to know you is eternal life and to serve you is perfect freedom: Defend us, your humble servants, in all assaults of our enemies; that we, surely trusting in your defense, may not fear the power of any adversaries, through the might of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Morning Reading – Matthew 5:1-16 (NLT)
The Sermon on the Mount (Continued)
Teaching about the Law
“Don’t misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to accomplish their purpose. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not even the smallest detail of God’s law will disappear until its purpose is achieved. So if you ignore the least commandment and teach others to do the same, you will be called the least in the Kingdom of Heaven. But anyone who obeys God’s laws and teaches them will be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven.
“But I warn you—unless your righteousness is better than the righteousness of the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven!
Teaching about Anger
“You have heard that our ancestors were told, ‘You must not murder. If you commit murder, you are subject to judgment.’ But I say, if you are even angry with someone, you are subject to judgment! If you call someone an idiot, you are in danger of being brought before the court. And if you curse someone, you are in danger of the fires of hell.
“So if you are presenting a sacrifice at the altar in the Temple and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, leave your sacrifice there at the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God.
“When you are on the way to court with your adversary, settle your differences quickly. Otherwise, your accuser may hand you over to the judge, who will hand you over to an officer, and you will be thrown into prison. And if that happens, you surely won’t be free again until you have paid the last penny.
Teaching about Adultery
“You have heard the commandment that says, ‘You must not commit adultery.’ But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. So if your eye—even your good eye—causes you to lust, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your hand—even your stronger hand—causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.
Teaching about Divorce
“You have heard the law that says, ‘A man can divorce his wife by merely giving her a written notice of divorce.’ But I say that a man who divorces his wife, unless she has been unfaithful, causes her to commit adultery. And anyone who marries a divorced woman also commits adultery.
Jesus’ teaching on Anger
“You have heard that our ancestors were told,
‘You must not murder. If you commit murder, you are subject to judgment.’
But I say, if you are even angry with someone, you are subject to judgment!”
– Matthew 5:21-22 –
Jesus began his teaching on righteousness in the Kingdom of God by describing the character and conduct that God blesses. This should not have surprised his listeners since his description conformed to the revelation of God’s will in the Old Testament. In fact, Jesus declares that he came to accomplish its purpose.
But while the Law primarily addressed behavior, Jesus addressed the thoughts and feelings that drive the behavior – in other words, Jesus addressed what’s going on in our hearts. His teaching on anger is a good example.
When God gave the sixth commandment, He did not just want people to refrain from murdering one another. He wanted them to refrain from the hatred that leads to murder. Murder is only the external manifestation of the internal problem. The scribes and Pharisees dealt only with the external act. Jesus showed that God’s concern ran much deeper. (John Stott)
Questions for consideration:
- What makes you angry? People with full shopping carts in the express checkout line? Slow drivers in the fast lane? Something else? Please explain.
- On a deeper level, what makes you angry? Betrayal of trust through adultery? Rejection through divorce? Some other betrayal or abuse of trust? Please explain.
- How have you dealt with feelings of anger, resentment, or bitterness? Have you held on to them? Or have you released them to God? Please explain.
Morning Prayer: Prayer to release Anger, Resentment and Bitterness
Gracious God, hear me and answer me. You know I am troubled by thoughts and feelings of anger, resentment and bitterness. You also know why. And You know how deep the hurt goes and how long I have lived with it. But I don’t want to live with it any longer. I don’t want to be an angry, resentful and bitter person. With Your help, I release my anger into Your hands. I surrender my resentment. I let go of my bitterness. Help me to keep letting go and release these toxic emotions as often as they try to return. I ask this in Jesus’ name through the power of his Spirit at work in me. Amen.
“Heal My Broken Heart” – Patty Felker
May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you, wherever He may send you. May He guide you through the wilderness, and protect you through the storm. May He bring you home rejoicing at the wonders He has shown you. May He bring you home rejoicing once again into our doors.
+ In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen