Introduction: Our study of Luke 12 last week taught us some important
lessons. First, Luke 12:30 tells us that our Father in heaven knows
that “we need” the material things that the “pagan world runs after.”
Second, Luke 12:31 tells us that if we seek God’s kingdom, God will
give us the things the pagan world seeks. That is an interesting
message, one that is easily misunderstood. Let’s continue our study
this week by looking at what the Bible teaches us about taking and
giving to others!

  1. The God Who Promises Us Wealth

    1. Skim over Deuteronomy 28:1-14 and read Malachi 3:8-11. A
      lot is written against what is called the “prosperity
      gospel.” That gospel essentially says followers of God
      will be wealthy. Considering Deuteronomy 28 and Malachi 3,
      is this prosperity idea based on the promises of God?
      (That seems to be exactly what these two references

      1. Look again at Malachi 3:10. How much wealth does this
        say comes to those who are faithful in tithes and
        offerings? (It says you will not have room for it.
        That sounds like our farmer from last week who was
        blessed so abundantly that he built new barns to
        house all of this wealth.)

        1. There are some who rightfully point out that
          Malachi 3:10 refers to “blessings” and not
          “money.” How do you understand the nature of
          the promised blessings in Malachi 3? (First,
          telling us that we will not have “room enough”
          certainly sounds like material blessings.
          However, Malachi 3:11 removes all doubt because
          it specifically refers to a farmer’s success
          with his crops. God is at a minimum talking
          about our material success.)

      2. When you consider these verses, do they seem to
        indicate that God is some sort of generous heavenly
        vending machine – pay tithes and offerings and you
        will get back more than you can currently store?
        (That is exactly how this sounds.)

        1. Is there any reason to believe that is not what
          God has in mind? Read Luke 12:31. What does
          this tell us is God’s goal for us? (To seek
          God’s Kingdom rather than seeking (or worrying
          about), material things. The point of Luke
          12:22-31 is that we should not make getting
          rich a priority. If God truly is offering to
          be a machine that multiplies our money, that
          would be a direct appeal to materialism. That
          misses God’s point.)

    2. Read Matthew 7:9-11. Do you want to give your children
      material things? If yes, explain why and then explain why
      that does not make you a “vending machine?” (We give our
      children things because we love them. You could be cynical
      and say that seems like a vending machine, but the truth
      is that we do it because we love them.)

    3. Read Matthew 7:12. What do the “law and the prophets” do
      for us? (They give us a better way to live. God’s love for
      us causes Him to give us good things, just like our love
      for our children causes us to give them good things. My
      parents wanted me to be successful and prosperous. God has
      the same goals for us, and He gives us His law to help
      make that happen.)

    4. Read Hebrews 11:32-35. Except for the last part of verse
      35, is this the life you would like to have? Is this the
      life that God wants you to have?

    5. Read Hebrews 11:35-38. Wait a minute! How do we explain
      this result? Was not Deuteronomy 28 and Malachi 3
      promised to them, too?

    6. Read Hebrews 11:39-40. Who are the “none” who failed to
      receive all that was promised? Is it just the people of
      God described in Hebrews 11:35-38? (If you are uncertain,
      read all of Hebrews 11. God’s point is that His followers
      had various levels of success, achievement and prosperity.
      However, none of them received here on earth the full
      promise of God.)

      1. What do you think is God’s point about materialism
        and success in Hebrews 11, and how does it relate to
        Deuteronomy 28 and Malachi 3? (God wants to give us
        great gifts, God wants to prosper us. However, the
        sinful world gets in the way so that none of us will
        realize God’s full promise until we reach heaven.)

        1. How should that make you look at the prosperity
          gospel? (If the full promise comes only in
          heaven and the earth made new, then our efforts
          here should be focused on advancing the Kingdom
          of God – exactly what Jesus directed in Luke

    7. So, how does this work out as a practical matter? Let’s
      turn next to a real life example.

  2. The Practical Life

    1. Read 2 Corinthians 8:1-2. Wait a minute! These are
      Christians who are experiencing both a “severe trial” and
      “extreme poverty.” How do you explain this result? Is it
      because they are not obeying God, not giving the Kingdom
      of God first place, or not being generous with God? (They
      clearly are being generous. Paul calls them “brothers and
      sisters,” so it appears they are following God.)

      1. How is it possible to be joyful and generous in the
        midst of trials and “extreme poverty?” (Verse 1 tells
        us that it comes by “grace.” This is further evidence
        of them having a right connection with God.)

      2. If God is showing them grace, then why are they not
        enjoying wealth? (This begins to give us a fuller
        picture of what the blessings of God can mean. We
        connect joy and generosity with wealth. But, God’s
        grace makes this possible without wealth.)

    2. Read 2 Corinthians 8:3-4. Does Paul have to urge the
      Macedonians to give? (No. Paul says it was their idea.
      They “urgently pleaded” to share their money.)

      1. Why would they be begging to share when they are in
        extreme poverty? (This reflects their love for fellow

    3. Read 2 Corinthians 8:5. Paul says that the Macedonians
      gave themselves first of all to the Lord and then to Paul
      and Titus. Is that order important? (Yes. The gift to Paul
      and Titus came as a result of “the will of God.” It is
      this change in our attitude, caused by the Holy Spirit,
      that counteracts our natural tendency towards greed.)

    4. Read 2 Corinthians 8:6-7. Do we need help to acquire the
      “grace of giving?” (Titus’ job was to help them with

      1. As you look at the list of things in which the
        Corinthians excelled, does this suggest that a
        Christian might fall down in the area of giving, but
        not in many other important aspects?

        1. If you answered, “yes,” would that mean that
          each of us should specifically consider how we
          are on the generosity/greed scale?

    5. Read 2 Corinthians 8:8. Are you encouraged that Paul does
      not make being generous a command? (It certainly seems to
      be more flexible than what God said in Malachi 3!)

      1. Have you ever had your spouse say, “I’m not going to
        tell you to do this, but if you loved me and were as
        good a spouse as the one my sibling married, you
        would do this for me?”

        1. If so, did you consider that a command? (That
          seems to be an exact parallel to what Paul is
          saying. If your love is sincere, and if you are
          as earnest as those Macedonians, you would be

        2. What does this tell us about the connection
          between generosity and love?

    6. Read 2 Corinthians 8:9. Are the Macedonians, or other
      earnest Christians, really the appropriate point of
      comparison? (No. Jesus died painfully on our behalf
      because of His love for us. That is our benchmark.)

    7. Read Galatians 5:22-23. What is the first listed fruit of
      the Holy Spirit? (Love.)

      1. How does this help us reconcile the situation faced
        by the Macedonians with God’s promise of material
        blessings to those who follow Him? (If our first goal
        is to pursue the Kingdom of God, then love should be
        reflected in our life. Although the general result of
        obedience is a blessed life, some face serious
        problems, including trials and poverty. Even in the
        face of those problems God’s followers should reflect
        His love by being generous with others in need.)

    8. Friend, if you find that you need some help in the
      love/generosity department, why not ask the Holy Spirit to
      help you?

  3. Next week: God or Mammon?