Text: Exo 20:15-17; Deut 5:21; Psalm 15:1-5; Prov 19:5; Matt 15:18-19; Luke 12:15; Col 3:5-6, 9-10; 1 Tim 6:9-10
KEY VERSE: Hebrew 13:5
Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you.” (NIV)
For many teens, cheating is simply a game of wits in which they take great pleasure in outsmarting adults and one another. But God is not fooled by all the excuses people give for this wrong behavior. The Bible is clear and emphatic about the nature and consequences of deceptive behavior: it’s like the devil (John 8:44), God hates it (Prov 12:22), and it brings judgment (Prov 19:5).
This week’s study focuses on issues of honesty – with ourselves, others, and God. Our compliance to or defiance of God’s commands regarding stealing, lying, and envy reveal our level of contentment and trust in God.
As you prepare this study, take the message to heart and examine your own life for hidden deception and dissatisfaction. Has your behavior been free of moral compromise? Have your conversations been free of slander? Have your desires been in line with God’s? Take time this week to let God continue perfecting His truth in your life. And if you need to make things right with someone else, trust Him for the strength to face your failures and find the freedom that His truth brings.
The Basic Message: Explain to students..
WHAT’S THE BIG IDEA?
God requires us to be honest with Him, others, and ourselves.
WHY DOES IT MATTER?
Stealing, lying, and coveting all Indicate discontentment, which reflects distrust toward God and disregard for His commands.
HOW DO I LIVE IT?
Commit to complete honesty, seeking forgiveness from God and others for past failures.
Activity Option: HONESTY
Discuss with students the following questions:
• How important do you think most people consider honesty? Why?
Guide: Read or have a volunteer read Exo 20:15-17. Explain that our culture is becoming increasingly tolerant of dishonesty. As Christians, we need to be careful not to fall into this trap. Dishonesty may seem convenient, the easy way out of trouble, or the quick road to success. But deception has consequences.
Study Overview: Explain that today’s study considers..
• How God’s commands against stealing and cheating apply to so many areas teens might not realize.
• How God expects us to be honest in our dealings with and about others.
• How wishing for what others have often shown distrust and discontentment toward God.
Inform and Discuss
a). To Catch a Thief
Teacher Hint: Read or have a volunteer read Exo 20:15. Explain that while many people will admit that stealing is wrong, a lot of people still compromise this command without even realizing it.
1. Beyond shoplifting and armed robbery, how do people steal from others? When and where does stealing take place?
Guide: Challenge students to think of more subtle behaviors that constitute stealing.
2. What are some reasons people might use to justify stealing?
Note: As a worker, even if you’re not being paid what you think is fair, you cannot make up for it by stealing. God holds us accountable for whatever we do, just as He holds others for theirs.
b). Nothing but the Truth
Teacher Hint: Read or have a volunteer read Exo 20:16. Explain that the Ninth Commandment protects the reputations of others. It forbids making false statements about someone’s character or actions. And it also prohibits lying in general.
1. Read or have a volunteer read Prov 19:5. Discuss with students some of the consequences of dishonesty. You, or a volunteer, may be willing to share from a personal experience.
Guide: Explain that Christians should refrain from lying for reasons other than the threat of punishment. Slander and lying are part of the old sinful life we must abandon (Col 3:9-10); it separates us from God.
2. Read or have a volunteer read Psalm 15:1-5. Why is it wrong to slander (i.e., speak falsely about) other people?
Guide: Explain that slander involves defaming, denigrating, or vilifying others with inferences or words. Such actions can destroy someone’s reputation, relationships, livelihood, and self-image. Even a person’s faith and perception of God can be distorted when someone, especially a supposed Christian, bring false accusations against him or her.
c). Desire and Discontentment
Teacher Hint: Read or have volunteers read Exo 20:17; Deut .5:21. Explain that coveting involves a lust to have something that belongs to another person-e.g., possessions, social standing or success, personal relationships, etc.
1. How does envy or covetousness affect a person’s relationship with the one they envy or their attitude toward the thing they want? [Hint: A strong desire can become an obsession, sparking jealousy, bitterness, lying, stealing, character assassination, hatred, and other sins. Envy and jealousy show contempt for others -and for God.
2. Read or have volunteers read Luke 12:15; and Heb 13:5. Discuss with students what it means to be content and how people become Content. [Guide: Point out that the root cause of each of the issues in this study (stealing, lying, and coveting) is often discontentment with what we have, which reflects disregard and distrust of God’s care and provision.
3. Read or have volunteers read Col 3:5-6; 1 Tim 6:9-10. In what ways can the desire and pursuit of wealth lead to trouble, spiritually and otherwise?
>>Note: Greed or covetousness is IDOLATRY (Col 3:5-6). It puts other things in front of dependence on God and ultimately brings judgment.
Involve Them: SELF-EVALUATION
Enlarge, duplicate, and distribute to students copies of the cards below. Ask them to complete the statements in the cards as honestly as possible. They will not be asked to reveal their answers. Some statements may have more than one answer, depending on how they feel to respond.
1. When I feel I don’t have the things I need, I
…feel frustrated and angry.
….try to find a way to earn money to buy them.
…feel my parents don’t understand my needs.
…feel jealous of friends who have what I want.
..accept it and forget about it.
…feel I’m treated unfairly.
…pray about it.
2. When I’m with people who don’t have as much as I have, I
…don’t compare what we own.
…accept them as they are.
3. When I’m with people who have more than I have, I
…feel jealous and/or inferior.
…wish I had what they had.
…don’t compare what we own.
…feel as relaxed as I do with other people.
…feel happy for what they’re able lo have
4. When I think about what I own, I
..feel satisfied and grateful.
..feel I need more.
5. When new items and Fashions come on the market, I
…take a little notice.
…bug my parents until they buy them for me.
…buy the biggest and the best as soon as possible.
…realize I don’t need them because I have plenty.
…save the money and buy them myself.
6. When someone is better than i am at something, I
…dislike him or her.
…avoid him or her.
…point out his or her imperfections in other areas.
…try to do better myself.
…admire him or her.
…feel happy for him or her.
7. When I meet someone with a really wonderful relationship (with his/her family, friend, etc.), I
…hate and talk down my own relationships.
…try to make my own relationships sound better.
…try to cause problems between them.
…try to be around them as much as possible.
>>Guide: When they’re through, ask them to take a few minutes to study their answers. Encourage them to sincerely rate themselves; and commit to improve on themselves or make amends where necessary. Have students keep the card as a prayer reminder.
>>Inspire Them: Remind students of “The Basic Message” of this study (pg 65), explain WHAT the Big Idea behind the study is; WHY it matters; and HOW we can live the lesson captured in the study.
Conclude the session by having a time of silent prayer with students. Encourage them to repent of any wrongdoing and commit to honest dealing with God and others. Remind them that God also expects us to make things right (Lev 6:1-5). Assure them that God can forgive and provide them the strength to confront past failures and make restitution with others.
Teacher Hint: Ask Yourself…
1. Can the students describe more subtle behaviors that fall in the area of stealing?
2. Can they explain the consequences of lying?
3. Do they understand that they must not only guard against wrong words and actions but also wrong motives and desires?
4. Have they had the opportunity to commit to complete honesty to themselves, others, and God?
Daily Dew Drops
Mon: God Detests Lying Lips – Proverbs 12:22
Tue: Keep Your Lips from Deceit – 1 Peter 3:10
Wed: Don’t Copy Satan – John 8:44
Thu: Honesty: Tool for Deeper Friendship – Col 3:9-10
Fri: Honesty Heals – Proverbs 15:4
Sat: Don’t be Deceived – James 1:26
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