Major Texts: Deut. 8:11-17; Phil. 2:3,4; 1 Cor. 15:51, 52; Rev. 22:1-5; Matt. 22:39; Gen. 2:21-25
We begin the lesson this week with a thought-provoking text - “What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone?” (James 2:14, NLT)
All through this past quarter, the main focus of the lessons has been on growing in Christ. The idea is that, upon coming to faith, a person should not enter into some kind of plateaued state, some stagnant state of existence based merely on some profession of ideas but, should grow moving from one stage to another all the while becoming more like Jesus. In view of this, the question posed in the verse above become both pertinent and challenging. At what point, and to what extent, should the professions a person makes in terms of faith, show up in their actions? And if nothing shows up, what are we to make of that?
The point here is that a Christian is saved in order to serve as God’s agent for the salvation and good of others. A biblical term for this kind of activity would be “steward,” one who manages the assets of another for the good of the owner and the community. In a biblical sense, this would include things like a person’s own life, time, talents, abilities, money, opportunity, influence, and knowledge. The goal in managing these assets is to glorify God.
With these foundation al ideas in mind, think about the following:
How would a person honor and glorify God with their own sense of being? What role does self-love play here? how do you understand Matt. 22:39, to love your neighbor as yourself? What would you need to do to keep self-love from being selfishly oriented?
Give some ideas as to how the use of time would honor God. What would you be inclined to do or not do with your time in light of salvation? What about working too hard or too long even on good things?
What does the Bible say about the acquisition and use of money? Can you explain the “tithing “ principle. How do you know where the “storehouse” mentioned in Malachi 3 is? What does the Bible teach about the poor and your obligations to help them?
The lesson brings in human relationships to this discussion, particularly marriage. How could marriage be to the glory of God? How do you think marriage might work toward the sanctification of those who contract it? What is marriage supposed to produce in and for a person involved in it?
Some thought should be given to employee/employer relationships. What principles should guide employers? And what principles should guide employees? How should disputes best be resolved?
What would a model Christian citizen look like? Is voting an appropriate thing for a Christian to do? Do you think a Christian should seek public office? What about paying taxes, even those you do not like?
There is the whole question of social responsibility. How do you relate to your neighbor, how to your society? What obligations do you have to the rest of the citizens of your country? How should you fulfil those? And what about responsibilities to the poor, the homeless, the unhealthy, the destitute? What can be said about the “common good?” What should Christians contribute to the “common good?”
In all this, say a word about generosity. What would generosity indicate about the person being generous? What effect does generosity have on the person doing the giving? And on the one receiving?
One of the reasons Christianity is often scorned in the western world today is that Christians do not live as they profess. They are often judgmental, mean-spirited, stingy, and cut off from society as a whole. Reversing some of these trends and conditions would probably go a long way to significantly improving the witness of believers.