Huddles: September 4th, 2019

Rescued for a Kingdom: No Love for Anger

Basic Instructions

Below is the plan for you to follow as you lead out this study. At the end of this post we have attached the full curriculum that includes some very helpful Bible background and commentary to help you as you prepare to lead. Our prayer for you is that the Lord will bring this Scripture to life in your own life and that your leading will be an overflow from that! Let us know if you have any questions.

The Main Idea

The Sermon on the Mount is an incredible moment in Jesus’ ministry. It’s Jesus teaching us what it means to live as those who have been rescued by God’s grace, and are living as children of God and members of God’s Kingdom. So much of what Jesus says in these chapters was countercultural then. It is still as much so now. As we pick up in Matthew 5, this lesson will challenge us to live as those who don’t let anger master them, but instead model mercy and grace to those who have wronged us.

The Lead In

As we begin the conversation around anger, let’s begin to think on these questions:

  • What are some things that make you angry?
    • Answers will vary.
  • How does anger show up in your life? How do you react when you get angry?
    • Answers will vary.
  • Does your relationship with Christ impact your anger? Does it impact the things that make you angry? Does it impact how you respond when you start to get angry? How so?
    • Answers will vary.

Explain that we’re going to spend some time looking at what Jesus says to His followers about anger.

Digging In

I. Set Up

BEGIN by instructing students to find Matthew 5 in their Bibles or on their devices. As students find Matthew 5, take a moment to provide context for the Sermon on the Mount.  Say something like:

  • Over the next several weeks we will be studying parts of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. Huge crowds were following Jesus and He took an opportunity to teach His disciples about the Kingdom of God.
  • This teaching is found in Matthew 5-7, and the emphasis comes in 5:20: “For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”
  • The scribes and the Pharisees were excellent keepers of the law—if there was anyone who was righteous, it was the scribes and Pharisees. So when Jesus said this it shocked everyone. It seemed impossible.  How could anyone be more righteous than the scribes and Pharisees?!
  • In this sermon, Jesus taught his disciples what true righteousness looks like in the Kingdom of God. God is looking for righteousness of the heart, not just the right outward actions.

II. Matthew 5:21-26

NEXT, read or have a student read Matthew 5:21-26. Ask something like:

  • What do you think Jesus meant when He said “You have heard it said…”?
    • Answer: Through this section of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus repeatedly uses the phrase “You have heard it said” to call the people’s attention to the Old Testament Law. He followed this by saying, “But I say to you” to get at the heart of the commandment. Jesus was teaching His disciples what it means to live as members of God’s Kingdom, those who seek righteousness through Him rather than trying to be right with God through following the Law.
  • In verse 21, Jesus repeated the sixth commandment, “You shall not murder.” How did Jesus take this commandment further?
    • Answer: Jesus said that the one who is angry with his brother deserves the same judgment as the murderer. Jesus equates anger to murder. If you have been angry, you are guilty of murder.
  • Why is anger such a grievous sin?
    • Answer: The law forbids the outward action of murder; here, Jesus told his disciples that the attitude of the heart was just as important. Those who have been rescued to God’s Kingdom should have a heart of righteousness, not just the right outward actions.
  • When you get angry with someone, what kind of things do you think or say about them? What does that reveal about your heart?
    • Answers will vary. It ultimately reveals the sin in our heart. It reveals our insecurities, lack of forgiveness, and judgmental attitudes.

THEN, say something like:

  • It is important for us to understand that Jesus isn’t talking about righteous anger—anger against sin. He is talking about anger that sits in our hearts and leads to a desire to hurt another (emotionally or physically) or take revenge. It comes from a Greek word that refers to a settled anger that is focused on revenge.  Understanding that Jesus is talking about a settled anger that seeks revenge, you still might be thinking that this is quite a stretch.
  • How can being angry with someone be the same thing as murdering him? How are anger and murder related?
    • Answer: In this passage, Jesus is revealing God’s perspective on our anger. Anger is at the root of murder because murder begins with an angry heart. A heart that is full of anger seeks to retaliate or get revenge, whether it is through something simple like an insult or something as big as murder.
    • Both anger and murder are an attack against God because it involves an attack of a person made in His image. The heart of the person who insults another’s character and the heart of the person who murders are the same—they have a settled attitude of anger, disrespect for God’s special creation, and a lack of trust in God’s ability to handle the situation that made them so angry in the first place.
    • The attitude of the heart is what makes a person either righteous or guilty, not obedience to the law.

THEN, explain that our anger often leads us to sin against another person. This can include name-calling, spreading gossip, physical fights, or even acting in a way that does not represent Christ well. This person can then “have something against us” as Jesus mentions in verse 23. Ask something like:

  • In your own words, what does Jesus command in verses 23-24?
    • Answer: Jesus said that if you are in the middle of worship and remember that you have offended your brother, you should seek reconciliation. When you have hurt someone, you should immediately seek to make things right.  If your anger has led you to sin against someone, you should confess your sin and settle things with that person.  You cannot have intimate fellowship with God when you are out of fellowship with a brother due to your unrepentant sin.

NEXT, explain that Jesus uses an illustration in verses 25-26 to describe the urgency with which we should make things right with the person we have sinned against. Settle things before you end up in court and the consequences are devastating. Ask something like:

  • Why do you think it is important to quickly make amends with the person we have offended?
    • Answer: Your fellowship with God is broken when your fellowship with your brother in Christ is broken as a result of unrepentant sin.
    • Additionally, the longer you remain in your anger, the more devastating the consequences. Anger can quickly put you in bondage and invade your heart, and that is when bitterness develops. A heart of anger affects your attitude and can even make you sick physically. An offense between two Christ-followers can affect the entire church.
    • Lastly, a heart of anger is not a mark of a person who has been rescued by Christ.

THEN, say something like:

  • Anger can escalate quickly. As those who have been rescued to God’s Kingdom, we must not let anger control us. We must live differently. We are not responsible for things people do to us, but we are 100% responsible for how we respond.

Last Word & Application

As we begin wrapping up, let’s consider how anger impacts us personally, look at one additional passage and consider what tools God has given us to battle against anger and walk in freedom in Christ.

This might be a good time to divide the group into smaller groups of the same gender.

Ask something like:

  • What makes you the most angry? 
  • What are some things that help you cope with your anger and calm down?
  • What about these things make you angry and why can’t you let them go?
  • What does this reveal about you?

Coping strategies are helpful tools, but the most important way to combat anger is found when our hearts are set on Christ and growing in deeper relationship with Him. Turn with me to Colossians 3:7-14 to see this fleshed out more. Read these verses.

Ask something like:   

  • Usually the first thing mentioned in a list is the most important. Look through this list. What is the first thing mentioned in this list of things followers of Jesus need to put off?
    • Answer:
  • Why do you think putting off anger is so important?
    • Answer: A heart of anger is at the root of these other practices of the old self. Anger can lead to even more sin.

As we read in this list, we see God doesn’t just tell us what to put off; He also tells us what to put on. Take some time to make two lists–one titled “Old Sinful Self” and the other titled “New Rescued Self”. As a group, use the information in Colossians 3:7-14 to write characteristics of both the old and new self on the appropriate lists. Say something like:

  • Living as a part of God’s Kingdom means putting away anger. Jesus has rescued you from your sinful old self and given you a new self, full of the Holy Spirit.  The old self is dead and every practice of the old self must be put away.  Do not live like your old self; live like a member of the kingdom of God. Put on the new self and let the characteristics of the new self be evident to everyone around you.  Do not let anger rule in your heart. 
  • Instead, act like the person Jesus says you already are.  Put on compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, patience, forgiveness and love. Jesus has rescued us and given us a new heart with the power to show love and grace, even in the most difficult circumstances. 

Wrap up in prayer together (or in smaller groups).

Click HERE to check out the full study!