Upper Elementary

What Money Cannot Buy

Lesson 4 

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Summer 2020

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By: Nance Keyes 

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June 28, 2020

Lesson Focus:

Learn to be happy with what you have.

Bible Basis:

Exodus 20:15, 17; Luke 12:13-21, 33-34

Materials Needed:

Step 1:

  • Internet access
  • White board
  • Markers

Summary & Links:

Students will consider the value of material items and the value of intangible gifts to determine that they can be content with what they have.

Memory Verse:

Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have.
—Hebrews 13:5

Step 1:

Students will consider the value of material items and the value of intangible gifts to determine that they can be content with what they have.

Materials Needed:

  • Internet access
  • White board
  • Markers

If you are teaching online this week, ask students to gather eight index cards or pieces of paper before the lesson begins. They will need these for Step 4.

Share the following video with your preteens [1:14]:
Man spins a giant wheel in a game show and wins more than a million dollars.
Justin’s Spin Hits a Huge Win

Contestants participate in television game shows with hopes of winning a grand prize: a whole lot of money.

  • What would you buy yourself if you won two million dollars? (Answers will vary; new tablet; gaming system; bicycle; sneakers, etc.)
  • If you won two million dollars, what would you do with the stuff you already have? (Answers will vary: keep it; throw it away; give it to a friend.)

A 60-year-old homeless man in Canada found $2,000 in cash. To someone who had little or nothing, a few thousand dollars may have been like winning a couple of a million dollars. Imagine all he could do with that money! 

Instead of spending it, that man walked to the police station with the money, hoping it could be returned to the person who lost it. As a reward for his honesty and kindness, those who heard about what he did raised nearly $5,000 for the homeless man.

  • What things do you think the homeless man bought with all that money? (Answers will vary: clothes, blankets, shoes and socks, a bus pass, a night at a motel, dinner at a restaurant, a cell phone, etc.) If you are teaching in a physical classroom, write the answers on the white board as the students share. If you are teaching online, project the board on your screen as you write. Or, write their ideas on a Word document while you share that document on your screen. Save this list for Step 4.
  • Sometimes, people like those in the game shows simply want to have more and more money. Other times, people like the homeless man truly need more funds. Is there ever a time when a person has enough? Explain your answer. (Accept all reasonable answers.)

Today we are going to explore the concept of being content with what we have, knowing that the things money cannot buy are what bring us true happiness.

Looking for Steps 2, 3 & 4?

You can find Steps 2 and 3 in your teacher’s guide. To purchase a teacher’s guide, please visit: Bible-in-Life or Echoes.

Step 4:

Materials Needed:

  • Internet access
  • Bibles
  • List from Step 1
  • Index cards or pieces of paper (8 per student)
  • Pens or markers

Remember the homeless man who found and turned in $2,000 and was rewarded with close to $5,000 for his honesty and kindness? Here is what he did with the reward money. After hours of searching for the man, the police were finally able to tell the man about the money waiting for him. Instead of the man collecting the $5,000 he donated it to a food service provider for homeless people in his city. Instead, all he wanted was a job.

  • Why do you think the homeless man donated the money? (Answers will vary but might include: he appreciated the help he received from the shelters and soup kitchens; he wanted to help others the way he had been helped; he placed more value on giving than receiving; through his homelessness, he learned to be content with few material things; he wanted to work to earn his own money, etc.)

For each item (share your screen or show the Step 1 list) that we thought the man might buy, come up with something else of more value—something that money cannot buy (i.e.: honesty, giving, kindness, helping, love, work, family, friends, service, etc.). Each time a student shares something that money cannot buy, cross out one of the material items and write the intangible item near it. Be sensitive to students whose families are going through difficult situations.

To help us remember to be content with what we have and keep priorities straight, we are going to make reminders of valuable things money can’t buy. 

Use your Bible as a guide to write the memory verse on the first card or piece of paper (“Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have.”—Hebrews 13:5). On each card or slip of paper, write valuable things we just listed on the board. Stack the cards together with the Bible verse on top. This week, choose a different slip each day. Then, throughout the day, focus on thanking God for what you have and for the gift of ________ (whatever is on the slip of paper).

  • What non-material blessing are you most thankful for today? (Answers will vary but may include family, friends, God, church, etc.)

Close in prayer asking God to help us all learn to be content with what we have.

Be sure to find time during the week to text students. Check in with them to see how they are doing and what they are thanking God for that day. You may even remind them that you are thanking God for them!

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