The Gospel of Matthew: I Have Seven Bad Things to Say About You
The Gospel of Matthew, part 68: I Have Seven Bad Things to Say About You
Search Me and Know Me
By Josh Porter
Begin with prayer (5 minutes)
Gather together as a Community in a comfortable setting. Have somebody lead a prayer asking the Holy Spirit to lead and guide your time together.
Spend a few minutes catching up on life and discussing how the last Scripture practice (memorization) went.
Read this overview
The Sermon of Seven Woes is included in Matthew’s gospel not only to document a real exchange but also to force past, present, and future disciples of Jesus to confront their own failure.
Most of us struggle in one way or another with our failures. For some, it’s an overwhelming sense of shame that can eclipse and overpower the beauty of God’s love and forgiveness. For others, it’s a callous flippancy that refuses to take failure seriously—I’m forgiven! God has grace for me! Why focus on sin?
Jesus urges his disciples to a complicated tension between these things. We are forgiven, redeemed, “made perfect.” But we are also stumbling and imperfect—like Paul, who wrote, “I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.”
Obsessing over and wallowing in our sin robs out attention from the saving power of Jesus, making the story we hold most precious into a myth. But immediately sweeping all sin under the rug of grace cheapens the cost of the cross, and of discipleship.
There is a time and a place to confront sin—to feel it’s horrible weight—before we allow Jesus to cleanse us in forgiveness.
Discuss the coming week’s Practice (5 minutes)
This week, set aside time to practice Lectio Divina with Psalm 139. As you reach the psalm’s conclusion, make the psalmist’s words the prayer of your heart:
Search me, God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.
After praying these words, wait and listen. If and when the Spirit of Jesus reveals “any offensive way” in you, listen to him. Do not rush the exchange. Without wallowing in shame, remember the weight and the consequences of sin.
Confess your sin, and begin the process of repentance.
Work through these discussion questions together as a Community (25 – 30 minutes)
- In confronting your own failure, do you tend to err to one extreme (shame) or the other (avoidance)?
- Why do you think confronting the weight of sin can be an important stage in the process of repentance?
Close in prayer (10 minutes)