Small Group Tools
Contemporary Comments 2017
God or Mammon?
Psalm 33:6-9; Matthew 19:16-22; 1 Peter 1:18; Hebrews 2:14, 15; Exodus 9:14; Psalm 50:10
January 20, 2018
Last week the Gloucestershire County Council made Susan Hurrell smile. They confirmed that the hoard of 2,000-year-old silver coins found in a field is “very rare indeed.” Susan is a metal detector enthusiast in England and said the discovery of eight Roman coins, dating from 134 BC to AD 37 was “the find of a lifetime.” Treasure finds in Great Britain are by law to be reported to local authorities. Mrs. Hurrell wants to keep the treasure, even if she has to pay the farmer on whose land she found the coins. 
Searching for lost treasure is a fun hobby enjoyed by many. But discovering a “hoard” of ancient coins is much different than “compulsive hoarding.” Also known as hoarding disorder, this pattern of behavior is shown by the excessive gathering of things and an unwillingness to dispose of large amounts of objects (often useless stuff) than can pile up in one’s living space. Such hoarding can actually put people’s lives at risk because of potential fires, falling over things, poor sanitation, and other health risks. Hoarders may even be aware that they have a problem, but they are so attached to objects that they are not motivated to do anything about their issue.
This week’s Sabbath school lesson, entitled “God or Mammon,” reminds us that money is not a problem in and of itself. Finding lost ancient coins can actually be an enjoyable hobby. It’s the obsession of material objects (even useless objects) that creates a problem in our lives. We don’t need to be compulsive hoarders to struggle with the grip of materialism. Sometimes people we might admire in society are being spiritually strangled by wealth.
A rich young ruler once approached Jesus and asked, “Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?” (Matthew 19:16). Christ told him to keep the commandments. He affirmed that he had since he was a child, but Jesus saw that materialism was causing him to break many commandments. The problem of wealth in this man’s life was so extreme that it called for extreme measures.
He asked Jesus, “What do I still lack?” (v. 20). It’s interesting that a rich man felt that he lacked something that money couldn’t buy. And it’s even more interesting that the solution Christ offered the wealthy ruler was to “sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me” (v. 21).
“But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions” (v. 22). His heart was so knit with his earthly goods that it would be like a painful divorce to part with his beloved wealth.
When you are willing to give up all you have in order to receive Christ, you will discover the find of a lifetime.
Connecting: Draw a picture of a simple balance scale (with a beam and fulcrum in the middle). On one side, write “God”; on the other, write “Money.” Underneath each side, write the benefits of serving each.
Sharing: Carefully review the story of the rich young ruler in Matthew 19:16-22. What lessons on stewardship can we learn from this passage? 1. Don’t bother thinking about getting rich and making it into the kingdom of heaven. 2. The problem was not his riches but how tightly his fingers were wrapped around his riches. 3. There are modern-day examples of people who are rich and love to give their money away. 4. The essence of the Ten Commandments is found in the first commandment: “You shall have no other gods before Me.” Money is often a huge god. 5. If we find it painful to give to the poor, it’s a strong indicator that we will not inherit eternal life. 6. Other...
Applying: Your child is heading off for college and tells you, “I’m choosing my degree based on how much money I will make with it.” How would you respond?
Valuing: On a scale of 1-10, where are you with money (1) and God (10) in your life? Is it even possible to rank this on a sliding scale? Reflect quietly on this for a few minutes.