St. John St. James Church, Roxbury

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Study Group Series: Wealth and Simplicity

The first study group will be this week, Sunday, December 8th. The topic will be "Loaves and Fishes Economics," looking at themes in the Bible about wealth and money.

Wealth and Simplicity

When is it right to enjoy an abundance of good things and when is it right to embrace simplicity? When is wealth a barrier between people and God? When is wealth and abundance a sign of God’s generosity? Christian traditions celebrate simplicity and simple living. Jesus, his disciples, and many of the prophets lived very simply, with no home and no wealth. But Christian traditions also celebrate the abundance of good things that God’s people can enjoy. Think of the generous meal that Jesus fed to the crowd of five thousand, or his miracle of turning water into wine, or beauty of the tabernacle that the Israelites built while they were in the desert. Think about how the psalms give thanks for beautiful lands and rich harvests. The Bible often presents different points of view about a topic. Reading these different perspectives helps us to really think deeply about an issue and helps us to think creatively about how to apply our faith to the day-to-day issues that we see in the world. Read these biblical passages and look for examples of different views about wealth and simplicity. Also start to think about how these ideas apply to day-to-day Christian life.

Psalm 65:8-13
8 The whole earth is filled with awe at your wonders;
where morning dawns, where evening fades,
you call forth songs of joy.
9 You care for the land and water it;
you enrich it abundantly.
The streams of God are filled with water
to provide the people with grain,
for so you have ordained it.
10 You drench its furrows and level its ridges;
you soften it with showers and bless its crops.
11 You crown the year with your bounty,
and your carts overflow with abundance.
12 The grasslands of the wilderness overflow;
the hills are clothed with gladness.
13 The meadows are covered with flocks
and the valleys are mantled with grain;
they shout for joy and sing.

The Rich and the Kingdom of God
Matthew 19:21-26, 30
21 Jesus answered [to the rich young man], “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” 22 When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth. 23 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” 25 When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, “Who then can be saved?” 26 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” 30 But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.

Acts 4:22-25
The Believers Share Their Possessions
32 All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. 33 With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all 34 that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales 35 and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need.

Ezekiel 34:1-6
The word of the Lord came to me: 2 “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Woe to you shepherds of Israel who only take care of yourselves! Should not shepherds take care of the flock? 3 You eat the curds, clothe yourselves with the wool and slaughter the choice animals, but you do not take care of the flock. 4 You have not strengthened the weak or healed the sick or bound up the injured. You have not brought back the strays or searched for the lost. You have ruled them harshly and brutally. 5 So they were scattered because there was no shepherd, and when they were scattered, they became food for all the wild animals. 6 My sheep wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill. They were scattered over the whole earth, and no one searched or looked for them.

Proverbs 17:1
1 Better a dry crust with peace and quiet
than a house full of feasting, with strife.

Proverbs 22:1-2
1 A good name is more desirable than great riches;
to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.
2 Rich and poor have this in common:
The Lord is the Maker of them all.

December 4, 2019