We have been reading stories from the book of John, and now we move to Jesus’s sermon in the book of Matthew. It is the first time reading the Sermon on the Mount with our children. I didn’t know how much they would understand, so at first we only read half of the chapter. But the children wanted to read more of it, so we read through the whole chapter (but we skipped the adultery and divorce sections). We ended up talking about the latter section about the rules (law).
We think we can live as good people, because we don’t do obvious “really bad” sins like murder. However, in this passage Jesus says even having hatred in your heart against your brother is sin. Evan and Ian realize that this passage is talking to them, as they get upset with their (baby) brother sometimes. Whenever Owen messes up their things, they get very upset at him. Even though they don’t do anything to him, they know and feel their anger boiling in their hearts. They don’t get in trouble with mom or dad, because we do not know what goes on in their hearts, but God does.
This is a point that we have been emphasizing in Children’s Ministry. Sin is not always something that you can see. In the samaritan woman story, we think that the act of having 5 husbands is the sin, but the real sin that Jesus is pointing out is that her heart is longing for something that doesn’t give her true satisfaction. Her heart is longing for something other than God. It is the unseen sins of our heart that we need to pay attention to. Namely, our heart that is against God.
The chapter ends with Jesus talking about loving our enemies and then with this verse: Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. How can we be perfect? Nobody is perfect. However, through Jesus’s love, we will become perfect. As we have experienced extravagant love from God, we will be able to show extravagant love for those around us – even our enemies. So instead of focusing on how we can show love, we need to focus on Jesus’s love for us.
(I would recommend skipping the adultery and divorce section for younger children. Read 5:1-17 & 43-48)