The Ideal Resource to Help Student Leaders Teach Matthew's Gospel — An Excerpt from "Matthew, Studies on the Go"
This fall we were pleased to launch a new series of helpful resources for youth workers, called "Studies on the Go."
The series gives volunteer leaders ready-made, creative, and engaging Bible studies that will challenge their students to think deeply, talk openly, and apply what they are learning to their lives. It also provides them with creative and engaging Bible study questions.
The first of two books is "Matthew," by Laurie Polich-Short. Her concisely informative book on this first Gospel will help leaders equip, push, encourage, and challenge their students to live lives devoted to our loving King—all with the goal that they would be changed.
The excerpt below illustrates how this resource will help volunteer leaders guide their students through Scripture and apply it to their lives. If you lead volunteer leaders, be sure to pass it along to them to help them better teach and lead.
Matthew 5: HOW TO TREAT OTHERS
Over the next three chapters, we are presented with the only sermon Jesus ever gave. And it’s clear from the start that he’s advocating a very different way to live. The “blessings” described in the Beatitudes are not blessings we normally hear about; they run counter to the culture we live. However when we live this way, we permeate our culture with the presence of God.
In this chapter, students will have a chance to reflect on their influence, for better or for worse. Jesus makes it clear that it is through our relationships with others that our relationship with God is shown. Perhaps the words of the simple song say it best: “They will know we are Christians by our love.” However, it is only through God’s strength that we can live this out.
So how do we do that? We’re the first to make up when it’s not our fault. We keep our commitments even when others haven’t. We don’t fight back when people deserve it. We love people who hate us. According to Jesus’ words, this is how our relationships should look when we want to point people to something greater than ourselves. Apparently God doesn’t want us to just talk about his love. He wants us to live it.
Warm- Up Questions
- Do you think the world defines blessing the same way God does? Why/Why not?
- If you had to sum up in one phrase how you treat others, what would it be? Does your faith impact the way you treat others?
- Which is hardest for you to do?
A. Share your faith with others,
B. Not take revenge
C. Not talk about people behind their backs,
D. Love your enemies.
Why is it hardest?
- What are the eight traits Jesus calls “blessed” in the Beatitudes? (verses 3- 10) Why does he say we should rejoice when we are persecuted? (verse 12)
- What does Jesus say we are in verses 13 and 14? What is the result of letting our light shine in verse 16?
- What does Jesus say we are to do before we go to the altar to worship God? (verses 23- 24) How does Jesus sum up the way we keep our oaths to people? (verse 37)
- What does Jesus say about payback in verses 38- 40? What does he say about how we are to treat our enemies? (verses 43- 44) What reason does he give for why he says this in verses 46- 47?
- How are the Beatitudes different from what the world calls “blessed”? (Give specific examples from verses 3- 11.)
- What does it mean to be “salt” as a Christian? What does it mean to be “light?” How are they different?
- Why do you think Jesus says we should make things right in our relationships before we go to him? (verses 23- 24) How do our relationships with others affect our relationship with God?
- What do you think Jesus means in verses 38- 42? Is he being literal? Why does he say we should love our enemies? (verses 43- 46)
- Which Beatitude in verses 3- 11 do you have the hardest time living out? Which is the easiest for you to live out?
- Are you better at being salt or light as a Christian? Which do you need to work on in your Christian life right now?
- Is there a broken relationship in your life that you need to make right? If so, what steps will you take to make that happen?
- When you read Jesus’ commandment to love your enemies, is there someone who comes to mind? Write that person’s initials next to that verse and pray for your relationship with them this week.
Have popcorn or chips in three bowls prepared three ways: Without salt, with salt, and over- salted. After your students taste them, have them choose the one they liked best, and the one they liked least. Debrief the exercise asking what it means to be salt as a Christian, and what it looks like when we are “under- salted” or “over- salted.” Added bonus: Give students a saltshaker with the verse.
By Laurie Polich-Short
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