Small Group Tools
Contemporary Comments 2018
Texts: Psalm 37:21; Matthew 4:3–10; Matthew 6:33; Deuteronomy 28:12; Proverbs 13:11; Proverbs 21:5; 2 Corinthians 4:18
The U.S. is now over $20 trillion in debt. The director of national security calls it unsustainable and a risk to security. Who’s to blame? Probably both parties share the responsibility for boosting the debt. Big tax cuts, big wars ($805 billion for the Iraq war and $783 billion for the Afghanistan war), and big economic stimulus packages have also shot the national debt to unbelievable heights, not to mention lots of entities holding out their hands and asking for more money.1
Many might be surprised to know that the U.S. debt to China is over $1.2 trillion. That’s about 19 percent of the $6.3 trillion in Treasury bills, notes, and bonds that are held by foreign countries. The rest is owned by the American people or by the U.S. government itself. The national debt is a subject of controversy, especially since we’ve had several years of $1 trillion budget deficits. As different sectors debate how to reduce the national debt, it’s worth taking time to look at what the Bible says about the Christian and debt.
This week’s Sabbath school lesson challenges each of us to live within our means and say no to debt. The place to begin was stated by Jesus: “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33). Putting Christ first will loosen our grip on money as a source of security and puts it on eternal values. It’s impossible to serve God and mammon and we are blind if we think we can have one foot in each boat. Eventually we will fall into the water.
Debt is slavery and drains not only our dollars but also our personal energy. It robs God of funding that ends up in the hands of lenders, it creates havoc in our marriages, it consumes our mental energies, and it damages our spiritual walk with God. Discontent drives many into debt. The solution is to discover the simplicity of living with less. The apostle Paul encouraged young Timothy, “And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content” (1 Timothy 6:8).
We live in a materialistic world and the temptations abound to purchase what we don’t need and slide into unnecessary debt. How much wiser and happier we would be to follow God’s plan for being wise stewards of the funds He has given us. Set up a budget and persistently stick by it. “The plans of the diligent lead surely to plenty, but those of everyone who is hasty, surely to poverty” (Proverbs 21:5). It’s not a bad plan to follow…even for a government.
~ For Reflection
Connecting: Distribute papers and pens and ask each person to anonymously write down how much debt he or she has. Have someone total up the answers. Talk generally about the challenges of debt and how being in debt feels.
Sharing: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19-21, NIV). What is Jesus saying here?
1. Good stewards are careful about how they spend their money.
2. Good stewards understand that much of what they buy will deteriorate.
3. Good stewards use money to bless God’s kingdom in some way.
4. Good stewards love blessing everyone around them with their money.
5. Good stewards are blessed to be givers and not takers.
Applying: Give each person a piece of poster board. Using old magazines, scissors, and glue, find headlines and pictures that show the dangers of coveting and debt or the passion of giving to God. Have group members share their creations with the larger group and explain the message they want to convey.
Valuing: What is God telling you right now about how you use money? What changes is the Holy Spirit whispering in your ear? Share with one other person and pray about your new decisions.
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