*LEADERS STUDY GUIDE 11.08.2020
WISE LIVING FROM PROVERBS:
November— The Wisdom of Contentment: Living with an open hand
Remember the “monkey trap” Terry spoke about? “We can do the same thing when it comes to our own lives. We have a propensity to live life with a closed fist rather than an open hand. “A fist closed around what we believe we must have, or keep, or gain, in order to be happy, safe, free, or successful. So, we close our hands around our health, or a dream of certain health, or wealth, or relationships, you fill in the blank. These are not wrong things to desire, and in appropriate ways, to work towards having. But when we try to live life with a closed fist, we are not free.”
Discuss: Use the following questions to get folks to think about the “monkey traps” in their own lives and how they are ensnared by them:
- What do the traps look like in your own life? Are you free or trapped?
- Why are you holding onto this little thing [the trap] that keeps you ensnared, when you could open your hand and experience God using you as a pipeline of His power and blessing?
Objective: Our objective for today is to gain a compelling vision for living with our hands/hearts open to God, and that we would see contentment as something within our reach to have and enjoy.
PASSAGE: Proverbs 11:23-27
23 The desire of the righteous ends only in good, but the hope of the wicked only in wrath.
24 One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly but comes to poverty.
25 A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.
26 People curse the man who hoards grain, but blessing crowns him who is willing to sell.
27 He who seeks good finds goodwill, but evil comes to him who searches for it.
Question: How does Proverbs 11:23-37 demonstrate the “open hand/closed hand” paradox that Terry spoke about? Look at each verse and discuss the paradox.
Note: The paradox is this: open your hand, you will have more; close your hand, you will have less. What makes it a paradox is that we intuitively believe that if we give things way (money, time, effort) we will have less for ourselves and less to keep. Yet the paradox is that if we open our hands and hold all that God puts there at his disposal, we’ll live free and move further into contentment.
Question: Read the following passages from the NT; what do we learn from these two passages?
2 COR. 9:6-11—”Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. As it is written: “He has scattered abroad his gifts to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.” Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.”
1 Tim. 6:17-19—”Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way, they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.”
Question: Do you hold selfishly to your time, to your efforts and energy, to your money?
Question: What is it that your hand most often closes in a fist around?
Question: Thinking about prosperity, what were the two imbalances Terry talked about? What does a balanced biblical approach look like? And where do you find yourself living most often, in imbalance or balanced biblical approach to prospering?
Application: Now look at your hands; are they open or clinched in fists? Do you want to be free? Do you want to move towards contentment? Then choose to keep your hands open. This will be a day-by-day, moment-by-moment decision. Determine today to continually examine your hands, are they closed in a fist? If so, then open them again. This is a life of faith that shows up in a tangible fashion. This is a life where you are positioned to experience God more fully…which is a definition of “the good life.”