Decisions motivated by money lead to disaster.
The Movie Clip:
On a cold New Year's Eve afternoon in a struggling Midwestern town, Hank Mitchell (Bill Paxton), his older brother Jacob (Billy Bob Thornton) and Jacob's buddy Lou discover the snow-encrusted wreck of a small plane, which holds a dead pilot and a duffel bag containing over four million dollars in cash.
One man's misfortune has presented them with a golden opportunity -- or has it?
Before Your Meeting: (Gather the following items)
- One King size candy bar of choice
- One bag mini-candy bars (same type as the King size). Place in large, brown paper grocery bag. BAG #2
- One empty candy bar wrapper: place in large, brown paper grocery bag. BAG #1
- One box of yellow school pencils
- One nice package of good pens or mechanical pencils: place in large, brown paper grocery bag. BAG #3
- One dull, eraser-less used and chewed-on pencil: place in large, brown paper grocery bag. BAG#4
- One fresh $1 bill
- One $5 bill: Place in large brown paper grocery bag.
- One bill of play money: Place in large, brown paper grocery bag. BAG #5
- A recording of the Jeopardy theme song is optional for good sound effects, but if not possible, feel free to hum!
On a table in front of room set 6 paper grocery bags. Mark them so that YOU know what is in each bag. You will play a shortened version of “Let’s Make a Deal.”
We’re opening tonight with a quick round of Let’s Make a Deal. Player Number One, stand up! Stay right where you are as I explain the deal. (You may want to have kids draw numbers to play or pick kids who have birthdays closest to your own or the student with the most freckles.) Number One, as a gift for being here on time tonight, I would like to give you this King Size Snickers Bar! (Cheers) Now, you may keep this Snickers, or you may trade it for what is in BAG #1 or BAG #2. You have 10 seconds to make your choice!
If Player One decides to keep what she has, fine. If she makes a trade, open her chosen bag and give her the item inside. Do not open both bags or tell students what is inside if bag goes un-chosen.
Player Two, stand where you are! Your gift tonight is this box of fresh un-sharpened school pencils! You may keep these pencils or choose from BAG #3 or BAG #4. Ten seconds to make your choice, go!
Follow the same pattern as you did for Player One.
Player Three, our final contestant! Stand and receive your gift; this fresh $1 bill! Keep it OR chose from BAG #5 or BAG #6. Ten seconds, go!
If you are inclined, at the end of the activity, you may show all the un-chosen items.
Introducing the Clip:
** Note: This movie is R Rated and we do not suggest that you show or recommend the movie for your students. Simply explain that this is just a good example of how decision making can be a real challenge sometimes. **
We make choices on a moment-by-moment basis every day. Keep what I have or go for BAG #3? Should I go to bed early? Should I study? Should I hang out with certain friends? Should I go to the bathroom before going on a long drive? Some choices seem easy to make while others make us stop and think for a while. Here’s a movie clip that shows a man who has made a decision that could change the rest of his life.
While walking in the woods, Lou, Jacob and Hank discovered a fallen airplane, hidden in deep snow. On closer look, they found a bag of cash; over four million dollars. Until this moment, the three men led mundane existences. Lou and Jacob desperately wanted to keep the money, while Hank, (married with a baby on the way) and an upstanding member of the community, needed considerable coaxing before agreeing to keep the cash. The two men convinced Hank to keep it, on the condition that Hank would decide when it was safe to divide and use the money or if the cash should be destroyed.
As you watch, pay attention to how Hank questions his wife and how Sarah responds first in words and then in action.
Show the Clip:
Scene 3, the clip starts at 2:301
. Plan to stop clip at the end of the conversation between Hank and Sarah when they sit at the table and Sarah laughs (the next scene has nudity so be prepared to stop on time).
Where you been? I was starting to get worried.
Can I ask you something?
What if you were walking in the woods and you found a bag full of money. Let’s say, four million dollars. Would you keep it?
Of course not.
Well, for starters, it would be stealing.
We’re talking about a lot of money here. No one’s looking for it.
Four million dollars of lost money that NO ONE is looking for? Well, so then whose money is it?
It’s my money? Whose money was it before?
A bank robbers.
So then, it’s the bank’s money.
All right…it’s uh…a drug dealers’.
Hank, this is really silly. Obviously you want me to say something in particular. I don’t know what it is but you want me to agree with you or say that you are right or something. But I wouldn’t take it. That’s just me. I wouldn’t.
It’s real.STOP the clip at 2:514
Hank's wife Sarah believed the cash should be turned in; but after seeing the stacks of money on her table and thinking about how the fortune could change their dismal existence, her ethical concerns were quickly wiped away. Hank’s hypothetical question became real. Sarah’s clear cut opinion became a moral dilemma.
Divide into Small Groups:
We’re going to talk about decision making in our small groups. Let’s go ahead and break up now.
CLICK HERE for a quick training article on how to maximize your small groups using our small group format—a great resource to equip your small group leaders.
- ASK A FEW: What would you do with a million dollars?
- ASK A FEW: Why are people so concerned about money and wealth?
- ASK A FEW: Why do people want to get rich?
- ASK A FEW: How do you think money affects people?
- ASK SOMEONE: How did money affect Sarah in the video clip we saw?
Let’s take a look at scripture. There is a scene in the Bible that is about decisions and money. Some people call it the story of the Rich Young Ruler.
Read the following passage.
ASK A FEW: How is the man in this passage like Hank and Sarah?
ASK A FEW: What do you think Jesus meant when he said that it is hard for a rich person to get in to heaven?
Jesus made a point to his disciples: when people are motivated by their love of money (and possessions) they become focused on that money; how to get more, how to keep it, how to spend it. He wants his disciples to make decisions based on their love for Him.
AROUND THE CIRCLE: What is one tough decision you have had to make in the last year and how would Jesus have wanted you to be motivated as you made that decision?
ASK SOMEONE: What promise does Jesus give to all of his followers
Matthew 19:16-30 (New Living Translation)
16 Someone came to Jesus with this question: “Teacher,[a] what good deed must I do to have eternal life?”
17 “Why ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. But to answer your question—if you want to receive eternal life, keep[b] the commandments.”
18 “Which ones?” the man asked.
And Jesus replied: “‘You must not murder. You must not commit adultery. You must not steal. You must not testify falsely. 19 Honor your father and mother. Love your neighbor as yourself.’[c]”
20 “I’ve obeyed all these commandments,” the young man replied. “What else must I do?”
21 Jesus told him, “If you want to be perfect, go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
22 But when the young man heard this, he went away sad, for he had many possessions.
23 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “I tell you the truth, it is very hard for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. 24 I’ll say it again—it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!”
25 The disciples were astounded. “Then who in the world can be saved?” they asked.
26 Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible.”
27 Then Peter said to him, “We’ve given up everything to follow you. What will we get?”
28 Jesus replied, “I assure you that when the world is made new[d] and the Son of Man[e] sits upon his glorious throne, you who have been my followers will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 And everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or property, for my sake, will receive a hundred times as much in return and will inherit eternal life. 30 But many who are the greatest now will be least important then, and those who seem least important now will be the greatest then.[f]
(beginning in verse 28)?
ASK A FEW: How does that verse make you feel?
ASK A FEW: What have you given up for Jesus (like the disciples did)?
AROUND THE CIRCLE: What does God want you to consider giving up for Him today?
The rich young ruler in this passage went away from Jesus sad. He was motivated by his love for money and possessions and he knew he wasn’t ready to give them up and follow. It’s a life-changing decision. We don’t know if that man ever changed his life-style, but we do know our own hearts. God knows our hearts too and he wants hearts that are willing to leave everything behind and follow Him because we love Him. That’s not easy. It shouldn’t be a quick decision that you make because everybody says it’s right. God knows your heart and loves you beyond any love you can imagine. It’s a big love. It’s a love that will guide you, comfort you and encourage you. It’s a love that will save you. Money and possessions will act like a wall between you and that love. He wants what is best for you. Let’s be quiet and let God speak to us about the stuff in our lives.
Close in prayer.