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Lesson 12: The Habits of a Steward *

Introduction: For a very long time I have attended a weekly Bible study group. Those groups change over the years. Sometimes I am in charge, and sometimes I am not. (I prefer it when I'm not in charge.) Recently, I told the friend hosting our current Bible study that we might have three new people show up that night. Turned out, none of them showed up. Why? Unlike the current members of the group, attending has not become a habit. Have you noticed that you can make new habits that improve your life? Recently, I've created the habit of going to the gym. What habits would you like to create? What habits does the Bible tell us to adopt? Let's dive into our study of the Bible and find out!

  1. Love Habit

    1. Read Ephesians 5:1-2. If you were asked if you loved God and loved your co-workers, what would you say? (For many years I was concerned that I did not love God, and I certainly knew I did not love most of the people I knew - unless they were family.)

      1. How you define love is important here. How would you describe love? (I think of it as an emotional, often romantic feeling. Although today I have an emotional love of God, I don't think emotion begins to describe what the Bible has in mind when it tells us to "walk in the way of love.")

    2. Re-read Ephesians 5:2. How is loved described? (As self-sacrifice.)

      1. When you are talking to someone, tell me which is of more interest to you:

        1. Learning more about the other person; or,

        2. Telling something about yourself that relates to the subject and puts you in a good light? (The former Dean of my law school, Jeffrey Brauch, has a wonderful habit. Whenever I listen to him speak with a student, he always intently listens and asks questions. He does the same when talking with me. That taught me a valuable habit of love - preferring to focus in conversations on others rather than myself.)

    3. Read Ephesians 5:3-4. Does this mean that flirting and appearing to have money are wrong? What is wrong with an occasional "mature" joke?

      1. What is the suggested alternative to this kind of talk? (Thankfulness! Giving thanks to God.)

    4. Read Ephesians 5:5. Why is this arguably innocent talk a problem? (The problem is that it reflects a heart of immorality, impurity and love of money. What we say generally reflects what we think. Our speech is a window into our heart.)

      1. What does the Bible say is the root problem? (That "person is an idolater.")

        1. How is that true? I don't know a single person who makes an idol and then bows down and worships it. (Be honest. Isn't all of this kind of talk selfish is some way? The coarse joke is generally at the expense of someone else - and makes you look smart, right? Flirting, would you admit, strengthens your relationship (or your ego) at the expense of the person's spouse? Talk about your wealth tells others you are better than they are. What does all of this get you? It pumps up your image of yourself! You worship yourself.)

        2. Can you see the thread of logic that runs through all of this? (The theme is to exchange the habit of love for yourself for concern for others. Thankfulness focuses your mind on the kindness of others.)

        3. What can you do to break that habit and replace it with unselfish talk? (We need to be alert to the problem, and ask the Holy Spirit to change our hearts.)

    5. Read 1 Corinthians 10:1-4. How would you rate the background of these people? (They had many spiritual advantages.)

      1. Are they like us?

    6. Read 1 Corinthians 10:5. What is the problem? (Despite these spiritual advantages, they displeased God and they died.)

    7. Read 1 Corinthians 10:6. Why is Paul reciting this history? (He wants us to learn a lesson about setting our heart on evil things.)

      1. Is there a connection between our habits and setting our hearts? (Yes. We just discussed becoming aware of the issue of our habits, and then asking the Holy Spirit to change our heart.)

    8. Read 1 Corinthians 10:7-11. What does grumbling have in common with sexual immorality and idol worship? (It is the same thing we have been discussing. Grumbling arises from a focus on yourself.)

  2. Trust Habit

    1. Read Matthew 6:28. What would you answer? (Worry is often about how you appear to others. No one wants to be embarrassed.)

    2. Read Matthew 6:29-30. What habit is Jesus encouraging us to adopt? (The habit of trusting God and not worrying.)

    3. Read Matthew 6:31-33. What is the first priority for pagans? (Running after clothes, food, drink and things.)

      1. What should be our first priority? (Seeking God's kingdom and His righteousness. God gives us all of these "things" the pagans seek as a bonus!)

      2. Let's look at this in terms of habits. What is the first thing you think about in the morning? Is it what you need to do for work? What you need to do to amuse yourself? Money?

        1. How would your life be different if your first thoughts in the morning were about how you could improve your walk with God? What you could do to advance the Kingdom of God?

    4. Read James 4:13-14. How would you compare this to the pagans we just read about who worry all the time about getting things? (This is somewhat different. These are people who plan the future.)

      1. Is there anything wrong with planning? (Planning without God being in the picture is the problem. Our personal planning has the serious problem that we, unlike God, cannot predict the future.)

    5. Read James 4:15. What should be at the center of all of our plans? (God's will! We should not only develop the habit of not worrying, we should develop the habit of putting God at the center of our plans.)

  3. Mind Habits

    1. Read Philippians 4:6. Does this seem to be a summary of our discussion so far?

    2. Read Philippians 4:7. What is the result of putting in place these habits? (Peace from God. Peace that guards our hearts and minds. Peace that others do not understand.)

    3. Read Philippians 4:8. Consider testing your mental habits against what we have been learning. When you think about yesterday, did your mind take in things that were right, pure, lovely and admirable? (Many of us need better mental habits. I recall some friends talking about movies they had seen or wanted to see. My immediate thought was that they were boring - and then I felt guilty because these were noble, pure and lovely movies.)

      1. What do you think it means to focus your mind on what is "true?" How about "admirable?" "Praiseworthy?" (How much of your thinking is on routine matters? How much of your thinking is spent on things that don't matter - or, if they matter, could get you into trouble? This suggests that we develop the habit of thinking "great" thoughts. Thoughts about how you might apply God's word to your job, your family relationships, politics, economics, your church, and your life.)

    4. Friend, do your habits need renovation? If so, invite the Holy Spirit, right now, to guide your mind and your words into a better set of habits!

  4. Next week: The Results of Stewardship.
* Copr. 2018, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.

© 2021 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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