The primary idea you need to keep revisiting during this Following Jesus Pathway is that we are following and being formed by Jesus. This pathway can be learned simply or in great depth. We trust that you as a leader know your people and the dynamics of your group well enough to adapt and impart this topic with grace and wisdom.
This guide is designed to help you and others follow and be formed by Jesus. Remember to keep it Jesus-Centered.
We pray that you will be Spirit-Led and Spirit- Empowered as you lead and learn together.
Give Hand Motion
Researchers have found that moving our bodies and adding actions to our learning significantly increases our ability to remember. Here is a hand action you can add to the command to remember it:
Step 1: Take your right hand and move it to your heart
Step 2: Move your hand away from your heart like you are taking something out of it (giving out of your heart rather than your wallet)
Brief Commentary and Context
Summary of Give - Throughout the God Story, we see that everything God created “gives”. Meaning every part of creation contributes something for the benefit of everything else. Each one of us plays a key part in building up the Kingdom through giving time, talents, and finances.
When God has all of us, it’s easy to let provision move to us and through us. When we are rooted in the security that God is a good and faithful provider, we readily respond with faithful and consistent giving, as well as outrageous generosity as the Spirit leads.
Brief Commentary - Mark 10:17-31 (Rich Young Ruler)
Jesus was traveling with his disciples making his way towards Jerusalem where he would give his very life for humanity. He was leading a Kingdom of God movement ushering in the restoration of all things with Him as King. While he was on his way, a zealous young man with great influence ran up to him saying, ““Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” (v.17). He was not asking about going to heaven. The Jews understood that there was the current age filled with sin, injustice, lying and oppression and people suffered. And an age to come where at long last God would be king, there would be restoration and human flourishing.
A common understanding for inheriting the age to come was to obey the law completely. This young man wants to know what Jesus and his crew think about entering the age to come? Before we move any further, this guy's heart is hungry, he is willing to ask a really tough question that makes him vulnerable. “And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.”
Interesting, this is often the question at the heart of idolatry: Good or God? Jesus continued, “You know the commandments. Do not murder (commandment 6), commit adultery (commandment 7), steal (commandment 8), bear false witness (commandment 9), defraud (Jesus added), honor your father and mother (commandment 5).” Notice Jesus intentionally omits commandments 1-4 (putting God first, no idols, not taking God’s name in vain, and the sabbath) and commandment 10 (covetousness) which all center on God being first, this is key.
The young man replied, ““Teacher, all these I have kept since my youth.” I can resonate so much with this guy. ‘I know the commands, I’ve been doing this stuff all my life.’ What relief he must feel, ‘I’m in, I’m good.’ Jesus is about to circle back to the core issue of the first four commandments, the root problem in his heart, but first the gospel writer Mark makes a stunning observation. “And Jesus, looking at him, loved him."
This moment is the game changer. Jesus is about to ask for the one thing that had his heart. But he doesn’t do it because he is cruel, or because he wants him to fail the test and realize he is a lousy believer. He loves him, he actually has the very best for him. Jesus wants him to make it. This guy is on the threshold of getting Jesus! This young man is about to get welcomed into the very story and family of Jesus’ disciples, the treasure of all treasures! But Jesus has got one more invitation to test what is in his heart. “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give it to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come follow me.”
Can you imagine the internal struggle as he stood there pondering this wild invitation to generous surrender? Tragically the pull of worldly security was too much. “Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.” We are all left saddened with the reality that this young man could have had it all, forever and gave it up for something fading and temporary.
We have to face the same questions, "does anything have my heart more than Jesus?", "do I have an idol?", “what is an idol?" It is anything more important to you than God, anything that absorbs your heart and imagination more than God, anything you seek to give you what only God can give” (Timothy Keller, Counterfeit Gods).
“Our hearts are idol-making factories that make good gifts from God ultimate in our lives, thereby replacing God in our affections” (Timothy Keller, Counterfeit Gods). Jesus will go on to describe how difficult it is to enter the kingdom when you have wealth. The disciples are utterly defeated, determining this kingdom path impossible. Jesus won’t disagree, he admits it will take God to work a miracle in the human heart to free it to love God first and make Him the King of all that we are. This is the wellspring of a generous life where we give from the heart!
Core Truths from the Topic:
Summary Scripture: Matt 6:21 & 24 -For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also; 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 Mammon.
2 Corinthians 9:6-8- Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.
Psalm 112:5- Good will come to those who are generous and lend freely, who conduct their affairs with justice.
2 Corinthians 9:10-15- Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you. Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!
Proverbs 11:24- One person gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty.
Proverbs 11:25- A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.
What Jesus Taught
The Sermon on the Mount highlights God’s love for the poor, good stewardship of resources and the natural tendency of the rich to become overly reliant on their wealth (Matthew 5 -7).
The Rich Young Ruler and the Parable of the Rich Fool shows us the danger of idolizing and accumulating wealth (Luke 18:!8-23).
The parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus teaches us that it is a sin to ignore the poor and that we are asked to show regard for them and meet their needs if able (Luke 16:19-31).
The command to store up treasures in heaven gives us an eternal perspective on our wealth and reminds us that earthly riches are fleeting (Matthew 6:19-21).
What the Apostles Taught
The writer of Hebrews and Paul reaffirms Jesus’ teaching to keep your life free from the love of money, and to be content and generous with what you have” (Heb 13:5 ; 1 Tim 6:7-10 & 1 Tim 6:17-19).
We are to work hard, provide for our families and manage our wealth with honesty and integrity (Luke 12:42-43; Acts 20:35; 2 Cor 8:7, 14; 9:7-11).
We are to enjoy our wealth and resources while not allowing them to have a hold on our hearts (Luke 12:35; 1 Tim 6:17).
Giving should be from faith and grace and not under compulsion (Corinthians 8:3; 9:7).
We should be generous and God honors sacrificial giving (2 Cor 8:2-3; Phil 4:17-18).
We should give cheerfully (2 Cor 9:7).
Giving should support our spiritual leaders and local church body (2 Cor 8:4-5 ; 1 Cor 9:3-14).
Giving should fund the local church and the care of the orphans and widows (Heb:13; Acts 2; Phil. 2).
Other Biblical Stories
Parable of rich fool - Luke 12:13-21, or widow’s gift
Widow’s Mite – Mark 12:41-44, Luke 21:1-4
Loaves and Fishes – John 6:1-15
Early Church – Acts 2:41-47, Acts 4:32-37
Treasures in Heaven – Matt. 6:19-24
Joseph of Arimathea – Matthew 27:57-61