If we want to know how to judge right from wrong and good from bad, we must know the truth. In order to know the truth, we must turn to God’s perfect Word.
The Movie Clip:
A small fender bender on NYC’s crowded FDR Drive sets off a chain reaction that nearly ruin the lives of the two men involved. Gavin Banek (played by Ben Affleck) is a high-powered lawyer who works at a firm that’s run by corrupt and ruthless owners. Doyle Gipson (played by Samuel L. Jackson) is a former alcoholic trying to piece his life back together, buy a home, and keep his wife from leaving town with their two boys.
As the drama unfolds, the two men do their best to try and ruin the other to get what they want. Everything could have been avoided if they had just changed lanes on the freeway. Now, their only hope is to change their lives
Introducing the Clip:
In this clip that takes place towards the end of the movie, law firm president Stephen Delano (played by Sydney Pollack) is talking with Gavin Banek (played by Ben Affleck) about an illegal and corrupt decision the law firm made behind Gavin’s back. Following the death of a rich man named Simon Dunn, the law firm cheated Mr. Dunn’s family out of millions and millions of dollars. When Gavin asks his boss Mr. Delano, “How can you live like that?” the older lawyer gives the young lawyer an interesting – and totally wrong – answer. His one line response is going to be the basis of our discussion so pay close attention to what he says!
BEGIN CLIP AT 1 HOUR 22 MINUTES AND 55 SECONDS
The key line in this dialogue is when Mr. Delano says, “At the end of the day, I think I do more good than harm. What other standard have I got to judge by?”
END CLIP AT 1 HOUR 24 MINUTES AND 22 SECONDS
Transitional Statement – You Say This: Did you hear what the older lawyer said to the younger lawyer, Ben Affleck? He knew he was guilty of some really sketchy legal decisions, but instead of coming clean, he tried to justify his actions. In the end, he said, “I just try to make sure I do more harm than good.” Then he asked a really important question, “What other standard have I got to judge by?” That’s the question I want us to try and answer in the next few moments. If we want to know how to judge right from wrong and good from bad, we must know the truth. In order to know the truth, we must turn to God’s perfect Word.
Divide into Small Groups:
Let’s go ahead and split up into our discussion groups, and then afterward we’ll come back together for a final word.
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.
- AROUND THE CIRCLE: As we get started, let’s take a second to share our names and our favorite movie.
- ASK A FEW: I know you probably haven’t seen the entire movie, but based on what little you know about him, would you like to work for a guy like the older lawyer, Mr. Delano? Why or why not?
- ASK A FEW: What did the crooked lawyer say was his “measuring stick” for right and wrong, or good and bad? In other words, what did he judge his life by? (Leaders – He said he tried to do more good than harm. Good luck with that….)
- ASK A FEW: What are some of the other things people use to try and determine what’s good or bad and right or wrong?
- ASK A FEW: What do you typically turn to in order to decide what’s right from wrong or good from bad? Does that work well for you?
- ASK A FEW: Where would God tell us to turn to know the difference between right or wrong, good or bad?
Read the following passage:
Psalm 119:97-106 (NLT)
Oh, how I love your law! I think about it all day long. 98 Your commands make me wiser than my enemies, for your commands are my constant guide. 99 Yes, I have more insight than my teachers, for I am always thinking of your decrees. 100 I am even wiser than my elders, for I have kept your commandments. 101 I have refused to walk on any path of evil, that I may remain obedient to your word. 102 I haven’t turned away from your laws, for you have taught me well. 103 How sweet are your words to my taste; they are sweeter than honey. 104 Your commandments give me understanding; no wonder I hate every false way of life. 105 Your word is a lamp for my feet and a light for my path. 106 I’ve promised it once, and I’ll promise again: I will obey your wonderful laws.
- ASK A FEW: This entire psalm, the longest in the entire Book of Psalms, is about God’s Word. What are some of the things the writer says about God’s Word, aka, The Bible? Hint: There are a lot!
- ASK A FEW: How has God’s Word benefitted this guy’s life? In other words, how has God’s Word helped him? Again, he lists a lot of ways!
- ASK A FEW: Of all the things the writer says about God’s Word in these few verses, which is the most important to you? Why?
- ASK A FEW: The writer says God’s Word is his “constant guide” and that it gives him “understanding.” How does God’s Word do that? (Leaders – This is a key question! There are several reasons why God’s Word can give us a standard on which to build our lives. For starters, it’s true! But second, it never changes. Ever! Third, God’s Word speaks to the biggest issues in our lives telling us exactly what God’s will for our lives is.)
- ASK A FEW: Should we base our decisions of right and wrong on what others are doing? Why or why not?
- ASK A FEW: Should we base our decisions of right and wrong on our feelings? Why or why not?
- ASK A FEW: The writer says he has all the benefits of God’s Word because he obeys God’s Word. Is there a difference between “obeying” God’s Word and just “knowing” God’s Word? If so, what?
- AROUND THE CIRCLE: What will you do this week that will allow you to better understand and obey God’s Word?
Wrap Up – You Say This:
During our time together, we watched a short clip about one lawyer trying to justify his illegal activity to another lawyer. His hope was that he would do more good than harm across his life. Then he asked a really good question: What should I be basing my life on? In other words, Where should I be turning to know what’s good or bad, right from wrong?
The answer is simple: God’s Word!
God’s Word can steer us because…well…it’s GOD’S Word. He is good and everything He says is good. He loves us and gave us His Word so we would know how to live. His Word has never changed – and will never change! Oh, and it’s true. I mean 100%, completely accurate, always true.
Jesus, God’s Son, made a big deal about that fact when He came to Earth 2,000 years ago. In several places, He reminded us that we must have God’s perfect, unchanging truth if we are to know how to live. Listen to a few of the things Jesus said about truth in the Gospel of John:
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)
“And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32)
“When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.” (John 16:13)
“Sanctify [cleanse] them in the truth; your word is truth.” (John 17:17)
God’s Word, the Bible, is perfect and true. It can accurately guide us in life…if we live by it. Yes, we need to study God’s Word, but we also need to obey God’s Word. The Bible does us little good if we don’t live by what it teaches.
I strongly encourage you to begin studying God’s Word right away, and living your life based on what you learn. If you’d like some help with that, I invite you to speak with me or one of our adult leaders after we close in prayer. We’d love to put some tools and resources in your hand so you can better understand God’s Word.
If you know God’s Word, you’ll always know the difference between good and bad, right and wrong.
Close in Prayer
Written by David R Smith
David R. Smith is the author of several books including Christianity... It's Like This and speaks to parents and leaders across the U.S. David is a 15-year youth ministry veteran, now a senior pastor, who specializes in sharing the gospel, and equipping others do the same. David provides free resources to anyone who works with teenagers on his website, DavidRSmith.org David resides with his wife and son in Tampa, Florida.