We recognize that money can be a sensitive topic, but it’s also one of the issues that Jesus talks most about. How we choose to use our money speaks volumes about our priorities and, consequently, about our spiritual life. We would encourage you as a group to engage these discussions with grace but not to shy away from them, as they could have a profound impact on you both personally and spiritually.
You may also find that some people in your group are relieved to know that others don’t have everything figured out financially either. Because money is often such a taboo topic, it’s an area where many people who struggle are isolated.
Contrary to what you may have heard people say, the Bible doesn’t condemn money or wealth, but it does condemn the love of money and ill-gotten gains. And it warns about the dangers that come along with having wealth.
We all like the idea of having more money, but if you were to suddenly find yourself rich, do you think you’d be a good rich person or a bad rich person? Why?
In his sermon, Gene talked about how if you make $45k/year, you are in the top 1% of wealthiest people in the world. The reality is that even if your salary is half of that, you are still among the most highly paid people in the world.
Often, people who are wealthy (and by world standards, most Eastsiders are wealthy) aren’t content with what they have. There’s this constant desire for more, a fancier car, a bigger house, a nicer kitchen.
Are you someone who is content with what you have? Or are you always looking for something bigger, better, or nicer? (Try to be honest with both yourself and others when answering this question. If we won’t own up to areas where we need to grow, we never will grow.)
Have a volunteer read 1 Timothy 6:6-10, 17-19.
Do you trust God for your daily bread? Or do you feel the need to store up enough money to account for everything that could go wrong?
Why is that? Is there something in your personality or past that leads you to trust or not trust God with your finances?
Americans may give away more money as they make more, but they actually tend to give away a smaller percentage of their total income. Has this held true in your own life? Have you found yourself more willing to give generously and sacrificially during seasons when you’ve earned less?
Paul talks not only about being generous with your finances but also with your time and strengths, about getting involved personally. Are there ways God might be calling you to serve Him or serve others? What is holding you back from doing so?
Have a volunteer read Haggai 1:6.
Do you ever feel like you put some money in your pocket or your purse or a bag, and it’s just like you’ve got holes in it? You fill it up with some money each month, and no matter how hard you try there’s never much left over. You think you’re just starting to get ahead and the water heater goes out. You’re starting to make some headway and the transmission goes out. You’re starting to get some breathing room and it’s time to send a kid to college or it’s time for a daughter’s wedding.
Has there ever been a time when you’ve felt like your money was going into a bag full of holes? What impact does/did it have on your generosity?
Have a volunteer read Luke 6:38.
Gene talked about having a “basket” mindset instead of “bag” full of holes mindset. A person with a basket mindset believes he or she can give freely because we serve an abundant God who we can trust, a God who fills our basket so that it is pressed down, shaken together, and overflowing.
The difference between the bag mindset people and basket mindset people is that bag mindset people just can’t get over the edge of trusting God to keep His promises. Basket mindset people know God never breaks His promises, and He can be trusted.
Some of us have a complete bag mindset, and a few of us may have a complete basket mindset. But most of us fall somewhere in the middle or even drift back and forth between being a bag person or a basket person. How can we begin to replace our bag mindset with a basket mindset?
Have a volunteer read Proverbs 3:9-10.
Has there ever been a time when you have given sacrificially, given up something you needed or wanted so that you could give more? Why did you make that decision? What was the result?
Gene shared some of the impact that basket minded people have had at Eastside. Because of their generosity:
We’ve built a water bottling plant in Kenya that is not only giving people clean safe water to drink but giving older students jobs so they can save for college.
When the vehicle owned by our compassion partners in Niger was totaled this year, we were able to help them buy a new one.
There’s an orphanage in Mexico where we’ve invested a million and a half dollars and thousands of hours providing a city of refuge for orphaned children, children from broken families, and children plucked from the human and sex trafficking industry.
We have a campus in Park Rapids; a campus in Anaheim; and we’ll soon have a campus in La Habra.
We’ve been able to give away nearly $3 million to compassion causes over the last year.
All of these outcomes, and Gene and Barbara’s own example of giving away over a quarter of their income, challenges us to at the very least follow the Biblical principle of tithing, of giving the first 10% of our income back to God.
If you are not currently tithing, what is holding you back?
If you are currently tithing, is it possible that God is calling you to give more, perhaps even to give sacrificially?