Sabbath School Lesson for July 10-16, 2021

Teresa’s YouTube channel about the Lesson:

Overview of Lesson 3

Here are some troubling questions that were explored this week…

  • If Jesus was the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6), why did He say He came NOT to bring peace (Matthew 10:34)? (Sunday)
  • Why do we always want more than we have? (Monday)
  • Why do we struggle so much to be first–the greatest? (Tuesday)
  • What does it mean to be hypocritical? (Wednesday)
  • How do we find rest, when there are so many reasons to be restless? (Thursday)

Just as beautiful aspen trees have one of the largest root systems in the plant world, we find that many of the causes of our restlessness are hidden beneath the surface of our characters. We need to learn more about the roots of our discontent and how they affect our ability to find rest in Christ. These causes erode our relationship with God and separate us from the Savior.

Memory Text: “For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.” James 3:16 ESV

Whenever we focus on self, there is danger of losing our focus on God. The kingdoms of this world are based on self-seeking and grasping all we can for ourselves. The kingdom of heaven, on the other hand, involves no self-promotion, but only self-sacrifice.

Jesus demonstrated the principles of focusing on and giving to others. His attitude and lifestyle offer us the model for making improvements that will better fit us for heaven. After all, He came directly from heaven to earth. He, more than anyone, knows what kind of heart transformation is required for our citizenship there.

Sunday: Jesus Brings Division

Among other titles, the Messiah is known as the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6). It must have been especially confusing to the disciples to learn that He would actually cause discord here on earth. See Matthew 10:34-39. This discord would even be among family members, even though they knew that honoring parents was commanded in the Law.

The harsh truth is that on this earth, with Satan commanding our allegiance at the same time as Christ invites us to be faithful, we will suffer from a lack of peace. Outward peace will be hard to find, but God promises to give inward peace. He will be there to quiet our troubled souls, when our life is anything but peaceful.

Choosing to pick up our cross and follow Him will not be a peaceful endeavor. Satan has all kinds of ways to obstruct our path to heaven. But Christ has offered to bear those burdens and reward us with an eternally peaceful existence with Him in the future. Heaven will be worth all the division and discord Satan creates on this earth.

Just envision our Savior literally carrying His cross down the streets of Jerusalem. The fact that someone was found to carry the heavy load for Him, symbolically reminds us that the Son of God will always be there to carry our burdens.

Bible Verses to Read and Discuss:

Matthew 10:34, 26:51, 52, and Ephesians 6:17

  • What kind of sword was Jesus talking about in these verses?
  • How can the word of God enable us to fight the evil schemes of the devil?
  • How can the Bible be used as a weapon to hurt someone, rather than save him?
  • What are some other common ways we misuse the word of God?

Matthew 10:37 and Exodus 20:12

  • When does honoring our parents become hurtful to our Christian experience?
  • What kind of honor does God expect us to have for our parents?

Monday: Selfishness

Sadly, since sin entered this planet, the roots of selfishness run deeper than perhaps any other character flaw. The parable of the rich fool in Luke 12 highlights the foolishness of always wanting to have bigger, better, and more than anyone else.

Someone in a crowd following Jesus was concerned about his inheritance (Luke 12:13). Evidently, his request was based on not getting his fair share. Jesus, no doubt reading his heart, told the story about a man building bigger and better barns to store all his goods. Jesus ended the story with a reminder that our treasures here on earth are of no value to us when we die. It’s better to invest our time and energy into growing spiritually with God. In other words, our heavenly inheritance is worth more than any material possessions we accumulate here on earth (Matthew 6:20).

Of course, the antidote for being selfish is to be humble. Philippians 2:5-8 has been called the “cascade of love”. Jesus not only became a man, He became a servant. He not only became a servant, He became a lowly, obedient slave. He not only became a lowly, obedient slave, He became a martyr, dying a cruel, unfair death for those He served.

Bible Verses to Read and Discuss:

Luke 12:13-21 and Matthew 6:20

  • How and why does unselfishness make us rich toward God?

Philippians 2:5-8

  • How does humility root out selfishness?

Tuesday: Ambition

There is nothing wrong with striving to be all we can be, as servants of God. It becomes a problem though when we start comparing our achievements with others and striving to be better than those around us.

This kind of thinking is just another form of selfishness. Our ambitions can be dangerous when they propel us to focus on self, rather than the good we can do for others. Unholy, worldly ambition will surely not lead to finding rest in Christ.

Even the last week of Jesus’ ministry was taunted with His own disciples’ squabbling over who would be greatest in His kingdom. At the last supper, Jesus offered them an answer to their question of greatness. His washing their feet provided a constant reminder of what true greatness looks like. True greatness is giving up your own rights and serving others with unquestioning love and compassion.

Lowering yourself to the level of a child was another way Jesus tried to express this principle. He said we must be converted and become as little children (Matthew 18:3). This transforming conversion must take place, enabling us to root out our ambitious longing for greatness, on this world or even in heaven.

Bible Verses to Read and Discuss:

Luke 22:24-30

  • How does serving others rid us of our ambitious desires to be great?
  • What can we do to prevent being ambitious, even in our service to God?

Matthew 18:1-4

  • How do children remind us to be humble?
  • What can we do to be like children in God’s eyes?

Wednesday: Hypocrisy

Just as Jesus provided us with a “cascade of love”, described in Philippians 2:5-8, we can find ourselves sinking into a “cascade of hate” when we don’t root out our restlessness. Being selfish and ambitious quickly leads to hypocrisy, another form of self-focus.

Hypocrisy, or trying to be someone we’re not, is surely what the Third Commandment is about. We take the Lord’s name in vain, when our behavior doesn’t match our profession of faith.

Jesus was particularly noted for pointing out the hypocrisy of the religious leaders of His time. When we don’t do what we say, as they were accused of, we ruin our Christian witness and credibility with God. It didn’t matter if they were Pharisees, which represented the conservative religious right, or Sadducees, the liberal elite priestly class. Both groups were guilty of hypocrisy and a lack of love and concern for others.

Hypocrites typically have these identifying marks:

  1. They don’t do what they say, making it harder for others to understand and practice their religion.
  2. They require admiration and honor, wanting others to recognize them for their acts of piety.

Publicly shaming these hypocritical individuals did not mean Jesus withheld His grace and forgiveness from them. He merely did it to get their attention and the attention of those who had been misled by their foolish behaviors.

Bible Verses to Read and Discuss:

Matthew 23:2-7 and Exodus 20:7

  • How does hypocrisy relate to breaking the Third Commandment?

Matthew 23:11, 12

  • How do we exalt Christ, rather than ourselves?

Thursday: Uprooting Restlessness

John 14:1 says to “let not your heart be troubled”–in other words, don’t be restless, without rest. He goes on to promise us  a home in heaven with Him. Reading the whole passage, through verse 6, we find out how this is accomplished. It’s obviously through Jesus and the sacrifice of His death. He said He was “the way, the truth, and the life.”

Of course, God the Father and the Holy Spirit are also involved in our rest. Philippians 1:6 tells us that “He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” He works, when we rest in Him. And John 16:13 clearly informs us that “the Spirit of truth will guide” us to that rest.

Allowing the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit to come to us is certainly responsible for healing us and our “backsliding”, restless ways (Jeremiah 3:22). But we must also come to Him for rest, as Jesus invited us in Matthew 11:28. Together with God, there is a way to uproot our unholy restlessness.

Bible Verses to Read and Discuss:

John 14:1-6

  • What answer is given for where we find rest?
  • How does Jesus’ life and death become the way for us to find rest for our souls?

Philippians 1:6

  • How does the Father provide us with rest?

John 16:13

  • Why do we also need the Holy Spirit to find rest?

Friday: Final Thoughts

The roots of our restlessness clearly lie within ourselves. Restlessness is seen in our selfish, ambitious, hypocritical thoughts and behaviors. But the secret to uprooting these signs of selfishness is not to look too long at self. After all, focusing on self is the cause of our restlessness in the first place.

Instead we must learn to focus on the needs of others. Jesus showed by word and example that a life of service is the pathway to greatness in His Kingdom. Ellen G. White, in Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 67, 68, sums up this concept:

“If you have accepted Christ as a personal Saviour, you are to forget yourself, and try to help others. …Do every duty that presents itself. …Your faith will increase, your convictions deepen, your love will be made perfect.”

Someone else has expressed it this way: “Anyone wrapped up in himself or herself is a very small package.” Let’s accept and remember these words of wisdom, and allow Christ to use us to His glory. That is the only way to be truly great in this world. Get wrapped up in serving God.

Next Week: The Cost of Rest

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