17 Nov Discussion Guide: When Richie Met Gracie Week 3
Before We Get Started
For our discussion today we will be using the sermon series discussion guides. If you would like to follow along you can access this discussion guide on the website at mosaicchurchaustin.com and then select “community group resources” in the menu options.
Because the main goal of our time together is to establish relationships and learn how to walk with one another in all that God has called us to be and do, we’d like to begin by praying for one another. So, does anyone have anything you’d like us to pray for, or anything to share regarding how you’ve seen God moving in your life that we can celebrate together.
This Week’s Topic
Today we continue our series titled When Richie Met Gracie. We will be taking a look at what happens when our money and resources come into a relationship with the love and grace of Jesus. How might the way we view, manage, and spend our money impact both our relationship with Jesus, as well as the way the world around us experiences the grace of God? Let’s find out as we dive into this love story of financial proportions.
Why do you think finances is such a touchy subject for a pastor to preach about?
“Give me five minutes with a person’s checkbook, and I will tell you where their heart is.”
How does our checkbook/credit card statement reveal what’s most important to us?
United States Bureau of Labor Statics
The average American household’s annual expenditures by category:
- Housing – 33.9%
- Transportation – 17%
- Food – 12.8%
- Personal insurance and retirement – 11.1%
- Health care – 5.9%
- Entertainment – 5.6%
- Apparel and services – 3.6%
- Contributions/Charity – 2.6%
- Education – 2.1%
- Personal care and services –1.2%
- Alcoholic beverages – 0.9%
- Tobacco products and smoking supplies – 0.6%
Based on national averages of where Americans spend their money, what would you say we tend to prioritize most as a culture?
Would you say that list tends to be the same or different for most Christians in America?
What does that say about us as followers of Christ?
“For I the Lord do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed. From the days of your fathers you have turned aside from my statutes and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you, says the Lord of hosts. But you say, ‘How shall we return?’ Will man rob God? Yet you are robbing me. But you say, ‘How have we robbed you?’ In your tithes and contributions. You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me, the whole nation of you. Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need. I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not destroy the fruits of your soil, and your vine in the field shall not fail to bear, says the Lord of hosts. Then all nations will call you blessed, for you will be a land of delight, says the Lord of hosts.”
Would you say God needs our money?
Is it wrong, or sinful, to be wealthy or to have nice things?
If God doesn’t need our money, and if it all belongs to him anyways, what is it we are taking from Him when we don’t put Him first in our finances?
Money, like our time and our talents, is just a tool or resource given to us to be used either for good or evil, either to love others or be self-centered. There is nothing inherently sinful or wicked about money. The sinfulness or righteousness of money comes from the way in which we use it.
The issue here in Malachi is not that the Israelites were keeping God from having what He needed or wanted in regards to possessions or material objects. The issue is that the Israelites were keeping from God the one thing that we as humans can keep from God. If God owns the cattle on a thousand hills, as scripture states, and if He also owns the hills on which those cattle graze, then it’s right to say there is nothing we possess in the physical world that God couldn’t just take from us in the blink of an eye if He so desired. Just ask Job about that. However, there is one thing we possess that God cannot take from us. It is the one thing we can ever truly give to God. That one thing is our hearts, our affection, our love, our worship.
It is for this very reason that God placed the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil in the Garden of Eden. For Adam and Eve to be able to accurately reflect who God is out into the world they had to have the ability to love, and one cannot love unless there is a choice to do the opposite and be selfish. Ever since that fateful day in Eden God has continually placed material objects in our lives and given us the same choice…use it to love God and others, or use it to love ourselves first. Our money is just another version of the Tree in the Garden.
How we prioritize our money reveals where our hearts are aimed, where our worship is pointed. The Israelites were robbing God of the worship He alone deserves. They were robbing God of His desire to bless them in response to that worship for God cannot bless that which goes against His nature and His design for creation. You see, worship isn’t just something that honors God, it is also something that benefits us as we function based on our God-given design.
It isn’t wrong to be wealthy. It isn’t wrong to have nice things. What is wrong is when we give our hearts to our wealth and our possessions and then have the mindset that whatever we don’t need or have use of anymore is what we will “give” away. It’s ok to have money, just make sure your money doesn’t have you.
What do we communicate to the world about God when we prioritize ourselves above all else with our finances?
When we are greedy or stingy with our finances we communicate two things about God: First, we communicate that God can’t really be trusted. By hoarding and being selfish with our money we tell the world that it is up to us and our ability to gain more wealth to take care of ourselves and secure our future. Second, we communicate that God is not worthy of our absolute and utmost affection, devotion and worship. When we chase after our own comforts and conveniences that our wealth provides above the needs of others then we are telling the world that Jesus is a nice addition to our comfortable lives, but He isn’t the King who is seated on the throne of our hearts.
Both of these are gross misappropriations of God’s design for humanity to bear His image and reflect who He is out into the world.
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
What is your greatest fear when it comes to your finances?
Hoe might the Gospel free you from that fear and help you to better trust God in this area of your life?
Let’s take a few minutes to partner up with someone and pray for one another in these areas of fear and ask God to move in our hearts.