Closing the Gap – Week 42 Study Guide

Commentary on Matt. 5:23-24

5:23-24   Broken relationships can hinder our relationship with God. If we have a problem or grievance with a friend, we should resolve the problem as soon as possible. We are hypocrites if we claim to love God while we hate others. Our attitudes toward others reflect our relationship with God (1 John 4:20).[1]

5:23-24 Disciples must attempt at their earliest opportunity to reconcile with a brother or sister who has something against them, even if doing so interrupts important business. Speaking to the context of his day, Jesus said disciples should seek reconciliation even if it meant halting in the middle of offering sacrifices at the Jerusalem temple. This interruption was significant since Jesus’s original audience (located away from Jerusalem) would have to abandon their gift at the altar, travel for days to reach Galilee and seek reconciliation, and then return to Judea to complete the sacrifice. Such is the priority of reconciliation.[2]


Study Guide:

Our heart attitude was “maintain clear relationships.” Part of guarding our hearts is not letting anger and/or unforgiveness move into our hearts.

  1. What does a clear relationship look like? How good are you at keeping relationships clear? Is it easy for you to admit when you are wrong? It is easy or difficult to talk about something that has been bothering you with a family member or a friend?
  1. Why is it never a surprise when our cars, homes and windows, need maintenance, but we’re always surprised when relationships need maintenance?
  1. It is inevitable that we will – at times – sin against one another.
    Discuss the following thought with the members of the group: We shouldn’t be surprised when we sin against another or when another person sins against us. God certainly isn’t surprised when we sin again one another. However, when we do sin against one another, it is important to make it right. We should never be surprised that it takes work to maintain relationships. As Terry said this morning, “Everything in life that is good requires attention, effort, and maintenance.”
  1. Terry talked this morning about building windows versus building walls. What are ways to build walls? What are ways to build windows?


How important is this to God that we keep relationships clear?

  • Read Colossians 3:13 – Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
  • Read Ephesians 4:2 -Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.
  • Romans 12:16a – Live in harmony with one another.
  • Ephesians 4:32 – Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.


  1. Often the words we think or say show what is in our hearts towards other people.

Read Matthew 5:21-2221 “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ 22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.

  • Raca is an Aramaic term of contempt. So what are terms we use in English that are either terms of contempt or words like “you fool”?
  1. If you just think something bad in your head towards another person, do you have to go tell the other person what you were thinking and ask them for forgiveness?
  2. What if I want to have this kind of heart (the kind described in are passage) but don’t right now…what is wrong with me? Am I not a Christian?
  3. If you say unkind words towards another person, how would be best to handle it? Acknowledge that what you said (or did) was wrong and ask for forgiveness.
  1. What if the other person will not forgive you? How do we handle that? Remember we can’t control the other person. Romans 12:18 says that “as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”


  1. Can people walk near you without stepping on your toes and if they do, is your heart is too small to forgive them? If this is true about your life, will you see your life as it is and repent?
  2. God has given you an empowered will to obey. He has given you clarity as what His will is for you to obey. So the question for us is will we say, “yes” to God, “I will, as best I can maintain clear relationships?” Tell your group why you’ve chosen the answer you have.


[1] Tyndale. Life Application Study Bible NIV (LASB: Full Size) (Kindle Locations 165450-165452). Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

[2] Holman Bible Staff. CSB Study Bible (Kindle Locations 201979-201984). B&H Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

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