Open: Week 2

Open to Generosity

Week of October 24, 2021

Opening Prayer:
God, we thank you once again for bringing our group back together. Help us make the most of our time together, opening up our hearts to one another and to you. Continue to strengthen the bonds of friendship we are building. Use this group to encourage and challenge each other to grow in our faith. Amen.

Historical Context:
Jesus has a lot to say about money and possessions, but two of his interactions with rich men in the Bible that stand out. The unnamed rich young man and the tax collector Zacchaeus offer us valuable lessons through their contrasting relationships with wealth.

The story of the rich young ruler comes from a section in the book of Mark where Jesus is making predictions about his coming death. This is paired with teachings about what true discipleship looks like. Mark emphasizes what all of this will mean for Jesus’ followers, including the sacrifices they will be asked to make.

Luke is the only gospel to contain the story of Zaccheaus. The context, though, is similar to that in Mark. Jesus has shifted his attention to the cross. He is using this time in his ministry to prepare his disciples for what is to come. Zaccheaus’ wealth is great due to his role as a chief tax collector.

Read Aloud:
Mark 10:17-27

A rich man’s question
17 As Jesus continued down the road, a man ran up, knelt before him, and asked, “Good Teacher, what must I do to obtain eternal life?”

18 Jesus replied, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except the one God. 19 You know the commandments: Don’t commit murder. Don’t commit adultery. Don’t steal. Don’t give false testimony. Don’t cheat. Honor your father and mother.”

20 “Teacher,” he responded, “I’ve kept all of these things since I was a boy.”

21 Jesus looked at him carefully and loved him. He said, “You are lacking one thing. Go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor. Then you will have treasure in heaven. And come, follow me.”22 But the man was dismayed at this statement and went away saddened, because he had many possessions.

23 Looking around, Jesus said to his disciples, “It will be very hard for the wealthy to enter God’s kingdom!” 24 His words startled the disciples, so Jesus told them again, “Children, it’s difficult to enter God’s kingdom! 25 It’s easier for a camel to squeeze through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter God’s kingdom.”

26 They were shocked even more and said to each other, “Then who can be saved?”

27 Jesus looked at them carefully and said, “It’s impossible with human beings, but not with God. All things are possible for God.”

Luke 19:1-10

A rich tax collector
19 Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through town. 2 A man there named Zacchaeus, a ruler among tax collectors, was rich.3 He was trying to see who Jesus was, but, being a short man, he couldn’t because of the crowd. 4 So he ran ahead and climbed up a sycamore tree so he could see Jesus, who was about to pass that way. 5 When Jesus came to that spot, he looked up and said, “Zacchaeus, come down at once. I must stay in your home today.”6 So Zacchaeus came down at once, happy to welcome Jesus.

7 Everyone who saw this grumbled, saying, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.”

8 Zacchaeus stopped and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord, I give half of my possessions to the poor. And if I have cheated anyone, I repay them four times as much.”

9 Jesus said to him, “Today, salvation has come to this household because he too is a son of Abraham. 10 The Human One came to seek and save the lost.”

Engaging Scripture:  
  • Why do you think the rich young man was so disappointed by Jesus’ answer to his question? Do you relate to his feelings?

  • What about Zacchaeus’ excitement to see Jesus sticks out to you?

  • When Jesus interacts with the rich young ruler and Zaccheaus the focus is on how these men treat their money. Why do you think this carries so much weight?

Application Questions:
Jesus wants his followers to experience a big, full, abundant life. This week we heard about two men who each had many possessions. One of them experienced a bit of abundant life with Jesus while the other missed out. The difference between the two men was their openness to being generous.  

  • Do you think of yourself as rich or do you think of yourself as someone just trying to get by financially? How do you think this view impacts the decisions you make with your money?

  • What steps can you take to loosen your grip on the money you have? How can you put yourself in a position to be open and respond to God’s call to generosity?

  • How do you think your life would look different if you experienced the abundant life (or salvation) Jesus promises in these stories?

Closing Prayer:  
God, we come to you with the knowledge that we are among the rich. When we stop comparing ourselves to one another, and look at the bigger picture we see how much more we have than others. We aren’t ashamed of our wealth, but we ask for your help as we consider our relationship to it. Encourage us as we pursue generosity. Give us eyes to see the abundant life you have waiting for us when we give of ourselves. Amen.

Taking it Further:
Want to learn more about how rich you are in relation to others around the world? Visit Experiment with their global income calculator and talk about what you find with someone close to you.

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