Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Sunday School - Proverbs (5) using money wisely

I've been struggling a bit teaching Proverbs. The group are a bit young, I discovered, to do a traditional Bible study, where you look up Bible verses and write them down: and believe me, there are a lot of verses in Proverbs!

So I was glad to hand our lesson on money over to my friend Liz - and even gladder to see that she came up with a great way to teach Proverbs, which we'll be using in weeks to come!

I gave poor Liz a long list of verses on how to use money wisely. As I looked up verse after verse, I was struck again by how incredibly practical Proverbs is. It includes all the everyday advice about money you would give to a child or adult: don't be lazy, save your money, don't spend it all at once, don't be greedy, avoid debt, be honest and generous.

But Proverbs also puts money in the big picture of God's creation and salvation: money is a great blessing, but far less valuable than wisdom or love. Better to have enough, but not too much, and serve God faithfully with what you have.

Liz had the great idea of making a chart, which the kids helped to complete, and which they proudly stuck up on the noticeboard for everyone at church to see. She printed out the verses I gave her in a large font. She used an A4 sheet as the radius of a circle, and cut out a quarter circle from 4 colourful A3 sheets:

Each quarter was given a title, and the children decided where to stick each of the verses:
1. Money is a blessing. The blessing of the LORD brings wealth, and he adds no trouble to it. (Proverbs 10:22)
2. Better than money. Wisdom (16:16), justice (16:8), a good reputation (22:1), peace (17:1), love (15:17).
3. What to do and what not to do. Don't get into debt (22:26-27), don't be a workaholic (23:4), don't be lazy (10:4), be honest in your work (11:1), save slowly(13:11), don't be greedy (28:20), don't trust in your money (11:28), be generous to the poor (11:24-25), give to God's work (3:9-10).
4. In conclusion. "...give me neither poverty nor riches..." (30:7-9)

The children drew pictures, cut them out, and stuck them on the chart to decorate it. Voila! One chart on God's teaching about money in Proverbs.

When my children and I had our own little Sunday School class on this topic, which was much less successful than Liz's (we were away that weekend), we started it with a game of Giant's Treasure (the adult stands with their back a good distance from the children, with a "treasure" behind them, and the children have to sneak up and grab the treasure, while the adult turns around unexpectedly and sends those who are moving back to the start). In the chest, if I'd been organised enough, I would have put some money cut out of shiny gold and silver card with "wisdom", "love", "peace", and the other "better than money" blessings on the back, and a few lollies to make it fun! A good icebreaker.

To sum it all up, here's one of my favourite Bible passages of all time, and a great one to learn and to pray:

Two things I ask of you, O LORD;
do not refuse me before I die:
Keep falsehood and lies far from me;
give me neither poverty nor riches,
but give me only my daily bread.
Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you
and say, 'Who is the LORD ?'
Or I may become poor and steal,
and so dishonour the name of my God.
Proverbs 30:7-9


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