Jesus Talks about Money (Martin Wiles’ Lessons for Youth and Children)

Scripture Reference: Luke 12:13-21

Objectives: To help children understand that being rich has little to do with how much money they have or how many possession they own. Rather, it has everything to do with our relationship with Jesus.

Today we are going to read a story Jesus told about a rich man.

What do you think a person must have to be considered rich? Do you have any friends whose parents you think are rich? Why do you think so? Would you like to be rich when you grow up? What would you have to have for you to think you were rich?

Let’s say our memory verse together: “For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil” (1 Timothy 6:10 NLT).

Tell children the Parable of the Rich Foolish Man.

Most of the time, large crowds of people followed Jesus. They loved to hear him tell stories, make the religious leaders look foolish, heal people, and even raise people from the dead. One day as Jesus was teaching, someone from the crowd yelled, “Tell my brother to divide our father’s land with me.”

In Jesus’ day, another name for teacher was Rabbi. Problems like this man’s were often brought to the rabbis for them to settle. Jesus told this person not to be greedy for what he didn’t own. Then he told him that life is not really about how much we have.

Reflection: What do you think it means to be greedy? What are some examples of greed that you might hear or read about? If you know someone who is greedy, what is it about them that makes you think they are greedy?

To illustrate what he meant when he warned this person about being greedy, Jesus told a story about a very foolish rich man. This particular rich man was a farmer. One year, his farm had produced an abundance of crops. Farmers would put their crops in barns until they could sell them, but his harvest of crops was so large that his barns wouldn’t hold it all. He had more than he needed to have enough to live on.

Reflection: What things do you think you must have to live? Do you have more than you need? Do you know anyone who doesn’t have as much as you do? Give examples of things their church may be doing to help people like this. What are some things you could do to help those who don’t have as much as you do?

The rich man thought about what he could do. He didn’t want his crops to ruin, so he had to have some place to put the excess. Since he was rich, he could afford to do something about his problem. He decided to tear down his old barns which weren’t large enough and then build larger barns . . . barns that would hold all his crops. When he finished, he would sit back and take life easy . . . doing whatever he wanted. He said he would, “Eat, drink, and be merry.” He wouldn’t have a care in the world because he had enough money in his crops to take care of his needs.

Just when he thought he had it made, God said to him, “You foolish man! Tonight you will die. Then who will get what you have?” Then Jesus told the people that it was foolish to store up earthly wealth while neglecting a relationship with God.

Reflection: Do you think it’s wrong to have a lot of money or possessions? Why or why not? Do you think Jesus was teaching this in the story? If not, what do you think he was teaching in this story?

Jesus wasn’t teaching that having money or material possessions was wrong. He was warning that money and things can cause us to take our eyes from serving God. Suppose you could choose between playing a computer game for two hours or coming to church. Which do you think would be more important? Would it be better to watch a show on television and then go immediately to bed or save ten minutes before you went to bed to say your prayers or read your Bible? The man in Jesus’ story wasn’t foolish because he was rich. He was foolish because he allowed all the stuff he had to cause him to neglect God. Loving and serving God is more important than anything you could buy with your money.

Reflection: How much time do you spend every day watching television, playing video games, on social media, or doing something else on the computer? What are some ways you could better use some of that time to serve God? How do advertisers try to make us think we would be happier if we had certain things?

Activity Break:

Place a large sheet of paper on the wall and let children make a list of what they think would make them happy (Don’t initially discount any answer they give.). After they have completed the list, talk about each one and whether it is something that might potentially take their attention away from God. Then ask them what things on their list God might think were most important and why. This activity is a good way to help children establish good priorities at an early age.

Wrap Up:

Let children draw and then color some items they could put before God.

Martin Wiles
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