Money and God’s ProvisionSmall Group Study / Produced by TOW Project
This lesson was piloted in April 2017 by Southern California Teen Challenge, in a program for men rehabilitating from drug addiction and prison. To see all lessons, go to the Men's Prison Curriculum Table of Contents.
Discussion Question: When you were growing up, how did your family talk about money? Was it a scary subject? Or something you worried about constantly?
God’s original plan was for everyone to have enough. God gave people the whole earth with all its resources so that everybody could flourish.
God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.” God said, “See, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food.”
But in a fallen world, many people don’t have enough resources. Sometimes poverty is caused by individual sin, as in the proverb: “A slack hand causes poverty, but the hand of the diligent makes rich” (Proverbs 10:4). More often, however, poverty results from sins of society. The Bible recognizes that racism and other evil forces make it difficult for people at the bottom to get ahead.
The field of the poor may yield much food, but it is swept away through injustice.
Jesus yelled at powerful people who benefited from a system where other people didn’t have enough.
As he taught, he said, “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, and to have the best seats in the synagogues and places of honor at banquets! They devour widows’ houses and for the sake of appearance say long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.”
The powerful people that Jesus condemned took property away from poor people and spent their money on fancy meals and clothes. This was true in Jesus’ time and sadly it is still true today.
Discussion Question: Do you see your life story in any of these Bible verses?
The good news is that Jesus came to change the order of things on earth and eventually make all things new.
For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross.
God is working to reconcile all things, including your personal finances. As with all of his projects, God wants you to work with him.
Three biblical attitudes will help you have a healthy view of money and make good financial decisions. These attitudes are: stewardship, gratitude, and contentment.
The biblical attitude of stewardship reminds us that God owns everything, and it is only our job to take care of it for a time.
The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it.
You may own property or have money, and you certainly have a right to use them. But in the end, everything you own belongs to God. God created everything in the world and asked humans to rule over it. That doesn’t mean people get to take everything away from God. Just the opposite. People have to take care of everything for God. That means you have a responsibility to use your time and your money wisely. One day God will ask you to give an explanation of what you did with everything he gave you.
“For it is as if a man, going on a journey, summoned his slaves and entrusted his property to them; to one he gave five talents [about $6,000,000], to another two, to another one, each according to his ability. Then he went away. The one who had received the five talents went off at once and traded with them, and made five more talents. In the same way, the one who had the two talents made two more talents. But the one who had received the one talent went off and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money. After a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. Then the one who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five more talents, saying, ‘Master, you handed over to me five talents; see, I have made five more talents.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’ And the one with the two talents also came forward, saying, ‘Master, you handed over to me two talents; see, I have made two more talents.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’ Then the one who had received the one talent also came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew that you were a harsh man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter seed; so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’ But his master replied, ‘You wicked and lazy slave! You knew, did you, that I reap where I did not sow, and gather where I did not scatter? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have received what was my own with interest.’”
Jesus told this story to show that God expects you to do something with what you’ve been given.
Discussion Question: What has God given you so far? What do you think he would like you to do with it?
The biblical practice of gratitude helps you break the bad habit of spending money on things you don’t need. Gratitude means thanking God for everything you get, whether it’s a lot or a little.
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
(1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)
When you’re starting to practice gratitude, it helps to remember key times to thank God for what you have. Thank God before you eat a meal, every time you get a paycheck, after you reach a savings goal or when you buy something that makes your life better.
The last biblical attitude that helps you reshape your relationship with money is contentment. Contentment means enjoying what you have right now.
Keep your lives free from the love of money, and be content with what you have; for he has said, “I will never leave you or forsake you.”
Discussion Question: What do you enjoy most in life? Is it exercise, a good meal, hanging with friends, or something else?
Whatever makes you happy, make sure you do it regularly and really enjoy it. If you are content in the present moment you won’t be thinking of other stuff you need to buy to make you happy.
If you have serious financial problems, please pray about them. God promises to work with people who pray.
“Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.”
God does not promise that Christians will escape every effect of the fallen world. Money troubles are real and frustrating. God does promise to provide for the things you absolutely need, and to make good things come from a bad situation.
And my God will fully satisfy every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.
Discussion Question: What are the biggest challenges in your finances? What do you want God to change?
Discussion Question: What would you call ‘a good life’? What do you need for your life to be good?