gods of money | Week 4

Matthew 6:24 – “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”
Hebrews 10:32-35 – “Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you endured in a great conflict full of suffering. Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated. You suffered along with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions. So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.”

Initial Questions

  1. What three items that you currently own can you almost not live without? 
    Possible response: iPhone, laptop, headphones
     
  2. List three goals in your life:
    Possible response: To be a famous person, to be rich, to be the best in what I do

Summary of Video

Chuck Bentley was raised in a Christian home, and eventually accepted Jesus in his early years. He became a businessman and was one of the pioneers in the internet boom of the 90s. He became successful enough that he says "money started chasing us". He even made a deal with God that if God would bless him, he would give Him the glory. Eventually, Chuck was pulled into working long hours for his company. And when he listed down his future goals, he realized that none of them were spiritual goals. 

At a Bible study Chuck read 2 Kings 17:40-41 where the people worshiped the Lord while serving their idols. He saw his own reflection, and saw the distinction between "worship" and "service". He called himself an idolater, serving money while "worshiping" God. He read Jesus teaching "you cannot serve both God and money" and found that God wanted him to die to the things of this world, and to recognize that God is the source of everything. 

In March of 2000, the internet bubble burst and the stock market crashed. His company was over but he didn't feel any sting to losing it. He recognized the greater treasure found in Jesus than all the riches of Wall Street. As he looks back at this experience, he asks "how did I ever get trapped in that?" and now works in a ministry devoted to helping others take a Biblical view of money and finances, and has found his decision more than worth the sacrifice. 

Kyle Idleman begins the video by relating the numerous cases of suicide during the Great Recession of 2007-2009. Many of these people have lost hope because their "god" had died. In Scripture, money is often portrayed as a competitor to God. Jesus talked more about money than heaven and hell combined, and more than on prayer. In Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, he says, "No one can serve two masters... you cannot serve both God and money (Matthew 6:24). Kyle teaches that money is such a strong idol in our lives because of its ability to replace what God can do. Money can give us a sense of self-worth based on our net worth. It can provide for our needs. It can give us security and satisfaction.

One way to know if money or certain goals have become an idol in our lives is to ask ourselves these questions: What do you sacrifice your time for? What do you worry so much? What do you dream of? The answer may reveal what god lies in our hearts. 

Discussion Questions

  1. How are money, possessions, and wealth idolized or worshipped in today’s culture? Give some examples:

    Possible answers: money and possessions - "status symbols" - are in today's songs and movies, and influence youth to chase after them in their lives
     
  2. What do money or possessions provide that can seem to take the place of God in our lives? 

    Possible answers: security, value, status, etc.
1 Timothy 6:6-10 – “But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.”
  1. Is being rich in and of itself a sin? “Those who want to get rich fall into temptation…” – what does this mean and how is that true? 

    Possible answers: No it is not in and of itself a sin. People like Solomon, and Abraham were rich and were not condemned for their riches. The "lottery curse" can show that riches bring with it temptations because the newly-rich person can afford certain temptations that were one too expensive for them (e.g. drugs, prostitutes). 

    What are some “foolish and harmful desires” that can come from having a lot of money? 

    Possible answers: Desires to be even more rich; desires to be famous; desires to buy needlessly expensive items. 
     
  2. Chuck referred to 2 Kings 17:41 – “Even while these people were worshipping the Lord, they were serving their idols”. And in Matthew 6:24 Jesus used the word “serve” rather than “worship”. What is the distinction between worship and service and why did Jesus use “serve”?

    Possible answers: "Service" refers to one's effort and work. While "worship" can be hypocritical and vainly religious. God wants our service – all our hearts, minds, souls and strength. 
     
  3. Knowing all the warnings against making idols out of money and possessions, what is the proper role of money and possessions in the Christian life? Read 1 Timothy 6:17-19. 

    Possible answer: We should not put our hope on money and possession which will be gone eventually, but on God who provides for our needs. Those who are rich should use their riches for the Kingdom of God, to be generous, and to lay our treasures in heaven. 
     
  4. When Paul says to use one’s wealth so that “they may take hold of the life that is truly life”, what do you think he means (and in light of Chuck’s story)?

    Possible answer: True life in its fullest comes only from God who is the giver of life. 
     
  5. Read Matthew 6:19-21 and Hebrews 10:32-35, and What is the Christian’s greatest treasure and possession and so where should our hearts be?

    Possible answer: The Christian's treasure and possession is God himself from whom comes the fullest joy, peace, security, value and all other things needed to fulfill all human needs and desires.

Summary

Money and possessions can be substitutes for God in our lives – we can try to find our success, happiness, and value from money or what money can buy but ultimately they will not satisfy. Christians are called not to chase after wealth and material possessions but rather use whatever blessing God gives for his glory. In doing so, we recognize that God is our ultimate treasure and possession and that we put our hope in him. 

HYMN: "I'D RATHER HAVE JESUS"

I’d rather have Jesus than silver or gold;
I’d rather be His than have riches untold;
I’d rather have Jesus than houses or lands;
I’d rather be led by His nail-pierced hand

Refrain:
Than to be the king of a vast domain
Or be held in sin’s dread sway;
I’d rather have Jesus than anything
This world affords today.

I’d rather have Jesus than men’s applause;
I’d rather be faithful to His dear cause;
I’d rather have Jesus than worldwide fame;
I’d rather be true to His holy name