Love of Riches Cuts Off Lifeline

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Gathering

Recall a time when you finally meet some guy you’d always admired.  What happened in that encounter? 

  1. He was all that I expected—and more! 
  2. He turned out average—no one special.
  3. I lost respect for him and left questioning why I so liked him.
  4. Other

 

Backstory

Jesus first responds to the young man’s question about eternal life by telling him that he already knows the commandments and that he should follow them. The young man is excited because he has kept the commandments his whole life. Based on a system of works-righteousness, the young man is confident he has lived righteously. But Jesus notably adds, “do not defraud,” to the usual list of Ten Commandments, likely because rich people were known to withhold pay from their workers. Economic oppression or defrauding the poor was common in Jesus’ day, but not unique to that generation. The problem is not wealth, per se, but in what we do with it. Jesus would have us re-examine anything that keeps us from following him wholeheartedly and righteously, as this story will reveal.

 

God’s Story

Have one person read Mark 10:17-31 straight through, with a dramatic flair for both sides in the interaction between Jesus and those who question him.

 

Finding My Story within God’s Story

Where do you find yourself in this story?

  1. The rich young man, grabbing for my wallet to keep from losing it all.
  2. Onlookers, taking inventory of which commandments I’ve kept—or not.
  3. The disciples, wondering what it takes to be saved.
  4. A family member, feeling left behind by a zealous believer.
  5. Other __________.

 

What “things” make you “rich”? (Check all that apply in your case.)

  1. I own lots of stuff (home, land, cars, retirement place) 
  2. My things of monetary value (retirement funds, savings, investments)
  3. My close relationships (spouse/family/friends/co-workers)
  4. My hobbies, habits, and health that secure my future
  5. Other __________.

 

If Jesus were to ask you to give up one of the things you checked in question #4, what would be hardest for you? Why that one?

 

What do you think it means, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!”

  1. Excess baggage makes it hard to squeeze through the narrow door to heaven.
  2. Riches are an idol that can keep people from prioritizing God in their lives.
  3. Rich people (like me?) feel self-sufficient with no real need for God.
  4. With sufficient resources, it is possible to secure one’s own future.
  5. Other __________.

 

Given your answer to question #6, how hard do you think it will be for you to enter God’s kingdom?

 

In what ways does this story challenge, even disturb, you? 

  1. I work hard for what I have and will not give it away, even if Jesus asked nicely.
  2. I’d gladly trade away my financial security if it would help others survive.
  3. I enjoy the good life and can’t see how giving it up would benefit anyone else. 
  4. I’d give all that I have to others and trust that God will provide for my needs.
  5. None of these fit me, I would say …

 

The story leaps from what “riches” God is asking us to give up, to the question of “Who then can be saved?” How are these two questions connected?

  1. What is impossible for mere mortals is possible for God.
  2. Trusting God is the denominator common to both security and salvation.
  3. God’s kingdom is priceless and worth everything we give up for it.
  4. God is jealous and puts all rivals second to his claim to be No. 1 in our life.
  5. Other __________.

 

Our Story

Ask the group to pray for you as you determine whatever God is asking of you, whether that be giving up “all” or some specific idol you’ve made. 

 

Consider how, as a men’s fellowship, you might follow Jesus by making a proportional sacrifice to give to the poor—such as supporting the local men’s homeless shelter or food pantry. If the group does not act together, ask them to hold you accountable.

 

When were you on the receiving end of great generosity? If you are able, tell that beneficiary who helped you, how much their kindness matters to you.

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