This Week's Memory Verse
(to be memorized & recited at the first small group session)
"If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches?"
Before attending the first class:
Memorize Luke 16:11.
Answer the homework questions.
Begin recording your income in the 30-Day Diary
1. What do you hope to gain from taking this study?
2. Based on this passage, do you think God’s way of handling money will differ from how most people handle it? What do you think might be the greatest differences?
Read the Introduction Notes below. After reading the notes, answer the following questions:
3. What information interested you and why did it interest you?
4. When you read the three reasons the Bible says so much about money, how did this challenge your thinking?
HOW WE HANDLE MONEYIMPACTS OUR FELLOWSHIP WITH THE LORD
I don’t know if it’s anywhere near Christmas time as you’re reading this, but the story of Ebenezer Scrooge is good enough to be mentioned all year around. You’ve probably read A Christmas Carol, or seen it in a movie or play. If you haven’t, I’m giving you a spoiler alert for the next paragraph, but I don’t feel too bad- the story’s been around since 1843. What have you been doing this whole time?
Mr. Scrooge is a character who sees his riches in one way at the beginning of the story, but after being visited by some “Christmas spirits” who give him a new perspective on his past, present, and future, he changes. Big time. He reconsiders what’s important, and what has value. With some supernatural help, he sees a bigger picture and goes from one way of thinking to a different and better way. We can do the same.
There are two ways of looking at money. Which of these two ways we choose is important because it will determine what we do with our hard-earned cash – and our lives. If you believe in God, you think about money in one way; if not, you view it a different way. If there is no God, you have to pick the best strategy you can think of, go with it, and hope for the best. But if there really is an all-wise, all-knowing God who cares about us, then it would be a good idea to listen to His advice on money. And the Bible is loaded with it.
The way most people handle their cash is very different from what the Bible teaches. This shouldn't come as a big surprise; we often think differently (and less clearly) than God. Isaiah 55:8 reads, “‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways’ declares the Lord.”
The most important difference between these views on money is this: in the view that takes God into account, He plays the biggest role.
Some people believe trusting what the Bible says on money is a leap of faith. But it’s really a logical step of faith. If we believe God exists and the Bible is His instruction manual for us, it’s a logical step of faith to accept the ultimate source of wisdom and truth. If, on the other hand, we don’t believe God exists, it is a logical step of faith to dismiss the Bible and its wisdom. Either way, the need for faith is inescapable, because no one can prove God doesn’t exist.
The person who doesn't know God has a hard time understanding His way of doing things. Paul wrote in his first letter to the Corinthians, "But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. But he who is spiritual appraises all things" (1 Corinthians 2:14-15).
THE BIBLE AND MONEY
You might be surprised to learn just how much the Bible says about finances. There are about 500 verses on prayer, less than 500 on faith, but more than 2,350 verses on how to handle money! Can you believe that? We need to ask ourselves why Jesus said more about it than almost any other subject. Here are three reasons why money and material possessions were a constant theme in his teaching:
1. How we handle our money affects our relationship with the Lord.
Jesus taught that how we handle money affects our spiritual life. In Luke 16:11 we read, “Therefore if you have not been faithful in the use of unrighteous [worldly] wealth, who will entrust the true riches to you?” What could be greater “true riches” than our relationship with Jesus? If we use our money in a way that pleases God, our relationship with Jesus grows closer. If we don't handle it well, our relationship with Him will suffer.
It makes sense. Money is something we spend a lot of our lives working to get. Then – when we get it – we spend it on the things we love. So the way we spend our money shows what is important to us. If God sees that we are making His ways a priority in our spending, He is honored by that.
This idea is seen in the parable of the talents. The master commends the servant who had handled money faithfully: “Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master” (Matthew 25:21). The Bible is very clear; those who faithfully handle money have the opportunity to have a closer relationship with the Lord. Sadly, this is a fact that many people don’t understand.
2. What we serve shows who or what we value.
There’s an episode of The Office where one manager (played by Steve Carell) is on his way out of the company, and another (played by Will Farrell) is being brought in to replace him. There’s a little bit of an overlap in time where both managers are simultaneously running the office, and it’s not exactly clear who is actually in charge. At first things are going well and both are trying to be nice to the other, but when the new manager wants to change the way the secretary answers the phone, a bit of a power struggle begins.
The conversation goes something like this:
“Erin, why do you say your name when you answer the phone? Why not just ‘Dunder Mifflin, how may I assist you?’”
“That’s the way Pam – our last receptionist – always did it, she’s kind of a legend around here.”
“Well, why not just try it without saying your name. I think it’s a little more professional.”
At this point the old manager walks up and says, “I don’t know. I kind of like her saying her name. It’s more personal.”
The new manger replies, “Oh, sure. Well that’s fine. I mean . . . whatever,” trying not to be too pushy.
Then, they both start arguing for their own way.
“Well, it’s not a big deal, so I think I’d like to change it,” says the new manager.
“Yeah, it’s not a big deal, so you can just do it the old way, or whatever you think you’d like to do,” the old manager replies.
While this conversation is taking place, the phone rings. The secretary is slow to answer because she doesn’t know what to say when she picks up the phone. She feels awkward because she doesn’t know which of the managers to obey. It keeps ringing, and both managers stare at her.
Finally she picks up the phone with both managers at her desk nodding their heads as if to say “Answer the way I told you.” She holds the phone silently against her ear for a minute. It’s tense with both managers waiting and watching and the customer on the other end of the line hearing nothing but silence. Finally, the receptionist knows she has to say something and whispers to the caller, “I’m so sorry,” and then hangs up. Both managers look at each other as if to say, “That was your fault!”
When two bosses want you to do two different things, you can obey only one of them. Recognizing this, Jesus tells us we must choose to serve either God or money. "No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth" (Matthew 6:24).
It is impossible for us to serve money – even in a small way – and still serve the Lord.
3. Much of life revolves around the use of money.
Jesus talked a lot about money because He knew so much of our lives would revolve around its use. Fortunately, He has prepared us for this reality by giving us the Bible to help us make wise decisions.
After studying the 2,350 verses in the Bible about money, we realize something amazing. These verses tell us that we have some responsibilities, and God has others. Simply put: God has a part, and we have a part. We’re partners!
Much of the frustration we feel in handling money is because we don’t know which responsibilities are ours and which are not. In this study you will discover which responsibilities are yours so you can let go of the ones that are not. You’re going to learn some great stuff about God and money that will help you the rest of your life!
LEARNING TO BE CONTENT
Check out these verses below. We are not born with contentment; rather, it is something we must learn.
In Philippians 4:11-12, Paul writes, “For I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity.”
Next week’s lesson will talk about God’s part and our part. It may seem as if God does everything, but that just isn't the case. The Lord has given us specific responsibilities to fulfill, and we will be looking at our role in the partnership throughout this study.
The 30-Day Diary
A big part of being faithful with what God has given us is knowing what we are doing with what He has provided. In order to do this, you will be keeping a diary of your income and expenses over the next 30 days.
This practice is crucial on two levels:
1. It helps you see how you are spending money over a 30-day period. This can be quite revealing and will really come in handy when it is time to formulate your Spending Plan.
2. It gives you a visual map of how well you are doing in being faithful with what God has given you.
We recommend that you keep any receipts you have and use that to record your spending into the 30-Day Diary. As a high school student, not all spending categories may pertain to you, but find the category that best fits your expense and enter into the appropriate day. After the 30 days, you will have the opportunity to change category titles to better fit your needs.
Every time you have income, record it into the appropriate day of the income category.
Every time you have an expense, record it into the appropriate category and day.
Download the 30-Day Diary
Save the 30-Day Diary to your computer or device before entering data
Data entry into the 30-Day Diary may be slower on a tablet or smartphone
Test your gaming skills and your Give, Save & Spend knowledge by playing Jungle Crossing. Each week you'll be able to play a different level - building bridges, collecting coins and answering questions that relate to your homework.