STUDY | Spend the week studying 1 Samuel 15:1-24. Consult the commentary provided and any additional study tools to enhance your preparation.
DETERMINE | Which discussion points and study questions will work best for your group.
PRAY | Pray for our pastors and this week’s message, the upcoming group time, your group members, and their openness to God’s Word.
LANDING POINT | Maturity begins with acknowledging where I'm immature.
Remember the 4 Rules for Small Group Discussion
- Confidentiality. What’s said in the group stays in the group.
- No cross-talk. Be considerate of others as they share. Refrain from side conversations and texting during group time.
- No fixing. We are not in the group to fix each other. Jesus does that part.
- Sharing. Be sensitive to the amount of time you share. Don’t talk too much or too little. Every person brings something valuable to the group.
As your group time begins, use this section to introduce the topic of discussion.
a deeper look
"Christian spirituality, without an integration of emotional health, can be deadly—to yourself, your relationship with God, and the people around you." - Peter Scazzero
The truth is, we can’t be spiritually mature while remaining emotionally immature. Each of us has areas in our emotional maturity that need to be addressed. Otherwise, we won’t experience the wholeness God wants for us. In this series you will look at what it means to live the whole-hearted life. The whole-hearted life is an integrated life, where every part of you is working toward maturity in Christ. This week your group will discuss emotional immaturity and how it was a problem for Israel’s first king, Saul.
Select 2-3 questions to discuss as a group.
a cowardly king
Saul was Israel’s first king. After some initial success, Saul was commanded by God to go to battle against the Amalekites and completely destroy everything and everybody. But Saul fails to follow through with God’s command. He didn’t kill Agag, the Amalekite king, and saved the best livestock and “all that was good” (1 Samuel 15:9).
Samuel, God’s prophet, confronts Saul and rebukes him. “Why didn’t you do what the Lord commanded?” Instead of owning up to his sin, Saul makes excuses and shifts the blame. He says, “I did what God said! I captured Agag. But the people plundered the spoils of victory. They kept the sheep and oxen. What could I do?”
Saul tries to feign repentance with Samuel after the fact, but it’s too late. He has disobeyed God—and it will cost him the throne. Why? Because Saul is more concerned with looking good than actually being good and doing right.
READ: 1 Samuel 15:17–24. What words would you use to describe Saul’s attitude?
Q: How does Saul reveal his cowardly character in the story?
Q: Why does God value obedience over sacrifice?
reflection and application
Select 2-3 questions from this section to answer.
diagnosing the problem
Many of us learned to function and cope with life, not based on what the Bible says, but on what we learned from our families of origin and life experiences. We learned from broken people living in a broken world. We all sense that something's wrong: that things aren't the way they're supposed to be. Each of us longs for wholeness and unconditional love, but instead, we experience disappointment, shame, lies, betrayal and fractured relationships.
As he did with Saul, God can use events and memories of the past to expose the unhealth in our lives. But change is possible. As Scazzero points out, “a revolution in the way we follow Jesus will bring about the profound and lasting change we long for in our lives. Without that kind of change, we’re likely to find ourselves trapped in a spiritual rut.”
But for change to happen, we first need to diagnose the problem. Let’s look at ten symptoms of emotionally unhealthy spirituality:
1. Using God to run from God – Using Christian activities to escape pain
2. Ignoring anger, sadness and fear
3. Dying to the wrong things – Thinking our deepest wishes, hopes and dreams are “unspiritual” 4. Denying the impact of the past on the present
5. Dividing life into “secular” and “sacred” compartments
6. Doing for God instead of being with God
7. Spiritualizing away conflict
8. Covering over brokenness, weakness, and failure
9. Living without limits (or boundaries)
10. Judging other people’s spiritual journey – Not letting others be themselves before God and move at our own pace.
Q: When was the first time you understood that something was wrong in the world? Have two or three people briefly share their experience.
Q: Why is it important that we diagnose our problems? What happens if we don’t?
Q: Review the ten symptoms of emotionally unhealthy spirituality. Which one or two symptoms do you most see in yourself?
Praise God for being loving and merciful and for not giving up on you. Ask Him to make clear the areas of emotional immaturity that He wants you to address in your life.
The People’s King Saul “became king because the [Israelites] asked for a king; now he is rejected because he listened to them (cf. Prov. 29:25) rather than leading them to obey God.” Saul valued the opinion of others over the opinion of God.
Obedience Rather Than Sacrifice “Samuel responded [to Saul’s excuses] with a statement of principle that is timeless in its application: To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams (v. 22). In addition to disobeying, Saul was guilty of rebellion . . . arrogance, and rejecting God’s word (v. 23).”
Self-Awareness “Emotional health concerns itself primarily with loving others well. It connects us to our interior life, making possible the seeing and treating of each individual as worthy of respect, created in the image of God and not just as an object to use. For this reason, self-awareness—knowing what is going on inside of us—is indispensable to emotional health and loving well.”
1. Peter Scazzero, Emotionally Healthy Spirituality: It’s Impossible to Be Spiritually Mature, While Remaining Emotionally Immature, updated ed. (Grand Rap- ids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2017), 9.
2. Ibid., 21.
3. Ibid., 22–36.
4. Crossway Bibles, The ESV Study Bible (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2008), 516.
5. Eugene H. Merrill, “1 Samuel,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 1 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 447
6. Peter Scazzero, Emotionally Healthy Spirituality: It’s Impossible to Be Spiritually Mature, While Remaining Emotionally Immature, updated ed. (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2017), 215.