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Bible Study Guide for the Sixth Sunday after Epiphany, February 12, 2023

February 12, 2023
  • Deuteronomy 30:15-20
  • Psalm 119:1-8
  • 1 Corinthians 3:1-9
  • Matthew 5:21-37

As I write this guide, it’s the end of the day. I spent the day working from home, my attention spread amongst up to four screens: a laptop and a second monitor for work, my personal laptop, and my smartphone. I sent emails, chatted with coworkers, and made phone calls. I called into Zoom calls and did separate work on a different topic while in those meetings. I also made time during the work day to go grocery shopping for a party I’m hosting this weekend, still responding to chat messages from coworkers while at the store. After my work day ended, my attention was still pulled in multiple directions: heating up dinner, catching up on social media, joining a Zoom call for evening prayer and a forum I’d been asked to participate in, and now writing this guide. Most of the time while I was doing all these things, I was thinking of my to-do lists both for work and the rest of my life: spreadsheets to update, phone calls to make, travel to plan, parties to host. I don’t mean to make myself sound overly important or like these duties are life-or-death. I just feel constantly distracted. Maybe you feel the same way.

Into these quotidian concerns Jesus comes crashing. Jesus demands a close and ruthless examination of our daily behavior. He leaves no wiggle room for those snarky asides we make to our coworkers about the person droning on in the conference call, or the eyeballing of the person with the great cheekbones in the produce section. If we’re in conflict with someone, we’re called on to resolve the issue with them quickly, as quickly as we can, stopping in the middle of whatever important thing we’re doing and rushing to talk it out with them. If we make a promise, Jesus reminds us of our own smallness and powerlessness to control the future. What He calls for is complete humility and one-hundred-percent ethical behavior.

How are we supposed to try to achieve this? Am I supposed to leave my Zoom meeting with my boss if I remember I have an interpersonal issue with a friend? I have things to do, so much stuff to get done. If this is how Jesus wants us to live, how can we ever succeed?

This is one passage where I don’t believe Jesus literally wants people to cut off limbs to avoid sinning. Rather, I think Jesus’s strong words are meant to impress on us how important the “little stuff” is. The frustrated words we shoot at a family member carry more weight than the dirty laundry does; the way we act towards the people around us, our coworkers or the cashier at the store, sticks around far longer than how long they take to scan a torn bar code. All those little interactions affect our relationships in the world, but they also make a mark on our soul, who we are and who God wants us to be. It’s easy to get distracted by the pressure of a long to-do list and stop paying attention to what happens in those little moments. Jesus reminds us that they will end up defining our life.

In the face of these high standards, God gives us grace and His love to strengthen us. He wants us to succeed because our joyful and balanced lives give Him joy as well. If we have ears to listen, the Holy Spirit is always alongside us, gently leading us towards the vision God has for human relationships: full of love, respect, and generosity of spirit.

– Lindy Noecker


What would a world built on Matthew 5:23-24 look like? Can you imagine a world with no grudges because each person immediately seeks a resolution to tension? (If you’re someone who tends to hold grudges, this may be even harder to imagine.)

Do you feel like you lead a distracted life, and if so, do you feel that that distraction pulls you away from following God? What’s one thing you might change this week to focus on God a little more?


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