Read verses 1-7
Q: How would you summarize the teaching in these verses?
A: It’s advice for living this present life.
Q: What does it actually mean to “guard your steps”?
A: This is a way of saying to make sure that you follow God’s ways exactly, never deviating from His path, never stumbling due to disobedience or sin. It’s a call to a committed, righteous lifestyle.
Q: What is more important than the sacrifices, than following biblical rituals?
A: Listening to God. The sacrifices were supposed to be the END of the process initiated by a changed heart. Those that think their sin is removed simply by making a sacrifice are in reality accomplishing nothing since they demonstrate that they’re NOT listening to God by committing sin over and over again.
Q: What is the basic teaching of v.2-3?
A: Think before you speak to God.
Q: How would you apply the discourse on vows in v.4-7 to our present life?
A: Follow through with every commitment made to God. Although we don’t go through a formal, ritual process of making vows as they did back then, it’s enough that our “yes” be followed through, and not hastily given to begin with.
But let your statement be, ‘Yes, yes’ or ‘No, no’; anything beyond these is of evil.
― Matthew 5:37
Q: How do these four pieces of advice work together to build Christian character?
A: It’s the control and submission of one’s actions, heart, and mind to God. If we’re focused on guarding our steps, listening first, thinking things through before we speak our mind to God, and following through with our commitments to Him, we’re allowing ourselves to be shaped by Him, to live this life according to HIS pleasure and will.
Point: Do these points of teaching sound familiar? They’re very much the basis for Christ’s “Sermon on the Mount” (Matthew 5-7). It shows not only the consistency of Scripture throughout the entire Bible but the basic requirements for Christian living that have never changed.
Application: For this present life, guard your steps, listen to God, think before you speak to God, and follow through every commitment made to God.