“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’  But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.  So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you,  leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.  Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison.  Truly, I say to you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny. (ESV)
Engaging the Scripture
1. The Mosaic Law clearly prohibited murder in the Ten Commandments (Ex.20:13) and many other places. Some have translated this as “Thou shalt not kill”. What is the meaning of “murder” and how does that differ from the term “kill”?
2. Even though perhaps not as serious as taking another person’s life, Jesus elevates the conversation when He includes angry outbursts, insults and verbal abuse toward another person as being subject to God’s judgement. What does it mean that this type of behavior will be liable to the hell of fire (literally, Gehenna)?
3. Why do you think that Jesus would make such a big issue over anger and verbal abuse?
4. Compare Jesus’ teaching with that of His brother, James in James 3:1-12. Especially note the last phrase in verse 6 regarding the source of the “fire” that can be set by misuse of the tongue.
5. As a result of this teaching, how did Jesus instruct His followers to respond when the Spirit convicted them of lashing out at others in anger (vs.23-24)?
6. Why is it important to be reconciled with your brother before continuing to worship?
Living As A Kingdom Citizen
1. Think about how you have been injured by someone else’s angry outbursts and/or verbal abuse. Pray about sharing this with the group or at least with another trusted friend.
2. How have you injured someone else through angry outbursts or verbal abuse?
3. Have you asked forgiveness of them? Why or why not?
4. Why is it so important to keep “short accounts” with others that it could “interrupt” our worship of God?