Introduction: In our first lesson of this series we learned that if
we seek the Kingdom of God, He will give us all of the material
things that the pagans run after ( Luke 12:30-31). If that is true,
then is the title to this lesson misleading? Is being a servant of
God incompatible with having money? If it is, how do we explain the
heroes of the Old Testament who were generally very wealthy men? The
heroes of the New Testament, on the other hand, were generally poor.
So, is this a conflict between the two testaments of the Bible? Or,
is there one unified message in the Bible about wealth? Let’s jump
into our study of the Bible and see if we can find God’s message on
- Rich Young Ruler
- Read Matthew 19:16. Are you interested in Jesus’ answer to
this question? (This is the most important answer in the
world! Jesus is about to give the key to eternal life.)
- Read Matthew 19:17. Why would Jesus ask this question?
Jesus was God! How do you make any sense of Jesus’ initial
reaction to this critical question? (Let’s just hold this
problem in the back of our minds and discuss it later.)
- Look again at the last half of Matthew 19:17. What answer
does Jesus give? (Keep the Ten Commandments.)
- We just got through studying Romans and Galatians.
Would Paul have a heart attack over this answer?
(Read Romans 3:28. We cannot rely one verse alone to
form our theology, but Paul would have said, “I need
to understand better what you are saying, Jesus.”)
- Read Matthew 19:18-19. What do you think about the young
man’s question? Are just some of the commandments
important? That seems to be a ridiculous question!
- If you thought the young man’s question was
troubling, what about Jesus’ answer? He cites only
four of the Ten Commandments (leaving out the one
about the Sabbath, the one about coveting, and all of
them about our duties to God – see Exodus 20:1-17),
and then Jesus cites His executive summary of the
second half of the Ten Commandments (see Matthew
22:36-40). If we achieve salvation by keeping the
commandments, why this particular selection of the
- Read Matthew 19:20. Good news! The selection that Jesus
recited are exactly what this young man has been keeping.
Hand him his ticket to heaven, right?
- Read Matthew 19:21. Who said anything about being perfect?
The young man just asked about what he had to do to obtain
eternal life! Why would Jesus add the perfection
- Or, do you have to be perfect to follow Jesus?
- And, why is it fair for Jesus to modify His prior
answer by adding a requirement (not stated anywhere
in any of the commandments) that the young man must
sell all his possessions and give them to the poor?
- Read Romans 3:19-20 and Galatians 3:10-11. Are the
teachings of Jesus and Paul in direct contradiction?
Or, is Jesus proving the truth of what Paul writes –
that the purpose of the law is to shut the mouth of
young guys who think that they are perfectly keeping
the law? (Read Matthew 19:22. I vote that Jesus and
Paul agree. Jesus is proving the point that the
assumption in the young ruler’s question (Matthew
19:16) that you could do something to get to heaven
is wrong. This young man cannot do what Jesus says
the law requires.)
- Let’s get back to a problem we left hanging. Re-read
Matthew 19:17. Does Jesus’ question now make sense? What
was Jesus trying to get the rich young man to acknowledge?
(Read Galatians 3:21-24. Jesus wanted the rich young man
to acknowledge that Jesus was God.)
- If the rich young man had caught the importance of
Jesus’ question, and answered it properly, do you
think Jesus would have asked him to sell all of his
possessions? (I don’t think so. The point of the
exchange between Jesus and the rich young man was not
about money (although I believe this showed the young
man relied on his money instead of God), but rather
it was about how humans cannot save themselves by
keeping the law.)
- So, let’s look at the title to this lesson. Is God or
Mammon a choice? (Certainly, if you want to understand how
to get to heaven: believe that Jesus is God, and accept
that He died for your sins, thus giving you a ticket to
eternal life! Making money, giving away money, nothing
concerned with money gives you a ticket to heaven. Works
cannot save you.)
- Read Matthew 19:23-26. Does this contradict what we just
concluded? That nothing concerned with money gives you a
ticket to heaven? (The story shows that the young man was
unwilling to give up his dependence on money and become
dependent on Jesus. That is the challenge for those who
are rich – not to depend on their money, but depend on
God. Depending on money is just another form of
righteousness by works, another form of idolatry. You
depend not on God, but what you made with your own two
- The Gift of Mammon
- Read Luke 16:13. This is where in the Bible the title to
our lesson is found. In the King James version it calls
money “mammon.” Does this text help you to better
understand the story of the rich young ruler? (He was not
seeking Jesus’ Kingdom first. Jesus asked the young man to
choose Him, rather than his money.)
- The following parable is Jesus’ illustration of the
saying that you cannot serve God and money. Let’s see
if we can make sense of it!
- Read Luke 16:1-4. What is the charge against the manager?
(He is not looking out for the best financial interests of
his rich master.)
- Does the manager fear about his future? (Yes. But, he
has a plan.)
- Read Luke 16:5-7. What do you think about the manager’s
plan? (It is absolutely dishonest! He prefers himself over
his master – even when it is the master’s money. He should
be fired, right?)
- Is the manager putting money before the Kingdom of
God? (No doubt!)
- Read Luke 16:8. Wait, wait, wait! What is this? Is Jesus
saying that embezzlers, like this manager, are smarter
than Christians who obey God? (They are “shrewder.” They
show more common sense.)
- Read Luke 16:9. Who is speaking now? Is this still part of
the story? (No. Our Lord Jesus is now explaining the
- “Eternal dwellings” must be a reference to heaven.
Should we shrewdly embezzle money in the name of God
to be welcomed into heaven? And, how does this help
us with the issue of choosing God or Mammon – which
is supposed to be the main point of this story?
(Jesus’ point is that Christians should use common
sense with money. They should use it to “gain
friends” (convert pagans) so they all will be
welcomed in heaven.)
- What does this say about the choice between God and
money? (Money is not the goal. However, money is an
important, common sense tool for advancing the
Kingdom of God.)
- Read Luke 16:10-12. Shouldn’t we conclude that the
dishonest, embezzling master should never be trusted with
more money? Yet, Jesus commends him. What is Jesus’ point
here? (If you don’t use common sense with your money, if
you don’t use it to “make friends” for the Kingdom in some
smart way, God is not going to trust you with more money!)
- Notice that verse 11 refers to “true riches.” What do
you think Jesus means by true riches? (Perhaps Jesus
means that if we do not use our money to promote the
Kingdom of God, He will not trust us with spiritual
gifts for promoting the kingdom. Certainly, Jesus is
referring to more than money.)
- Re-read Luke 16:13. Now that we have studied the story for
which this is the summary, how do you think this verse
should be understood?
- Friend, what is your attitude towards money and
possessions? Jesus asks us to put our trust for eternal
life in Him, rather than in our money. Money is not bad,
but trusting in it is a serious problem. Instead of
trusting in money, we need to use common sense and money
as tools to win friends for eternal life! Why not commit
to that right now?
- Next week: Escape From the World’s Ways.