Read this week's Bible story in Matthew 18:23-35 about forgiveness and challenge kids to come up with a modern version of the story. (How about one involving a younger and older brother? Or how about two friends and a broken toy?)
Give them time to work on it and then have them act it out. If you like, videotape and then watch it.
In this story, which one is the most like God? (The 1st one who was willing to forgive a really big debt)
Which one are you more like in this story?
God is generous and forgiving. When we forgive others, we are acting more like Him.
Steps to Forgiveness
Items needed: pieces of copy or construction paper, and markers/pens
Students in the upper elementary classes learned some Steps to Forgiveness. Review and illustrate the steps. Assign the steps to different kids and ask them to illustrate someone doing that. (They could even write the words in a word bubble above the character's heads.) Talk about each one.
Acknowledge that you were wronged. It's okay to feel sad and angry when someone hurts you. It's okay to admit that what they did was wrong. God is sad when we are hurt.
Communicate. Talk about it. Words such as: I felt sad when you broke my CD; I felt hurt when you made fun of me, can help others understand how they wronged us. Others may not have realized they have hurt us. Going to them privately and talking about it is what Jesus said to do in Matthew 18:15.
Forgive. Come to an agreement and forgive. If you can work it out, you have gained a friend back. Ask yourself: Is what he or she has done bigger than what I have done in sinning against God? Forgiving means you are giving up your right to get them back. It means you are trusting God to take care of it.
Pray. Every time the bad feelings come back, tell God you want to obey and ask for His help to forgive. Tell Him you trust HIM to handle it. Pray for the person who wronged you.
Use these steps when family members have a disagreement.
Students are memorizing Ephesians 4:32. This verse fits the song, Frere Jacques (Are You Sleeping?). Sing the song together to review the verse. Once they have memorized it well enough, try singing it in a round. Divide into two groups and the second group would begin singing at "tenderhearted."
What is the opposite of tenderhearted? (Hard hearted—not wanting to forgive, but wanting to get revenge)
Why should we forgive others? (God has forgiven us)
God's forgiveness to us is the reason we can forgive others. Others have not hurt us more than our sin hurt Jesus. Our sin against God is bigger than any sin that others have done to us. God forgives us; we can forgive others.
Sometimes we are confused or can be tricked into making bad choices. Things are not always as they seem to be and we need discernment to decide between right and wrong.
What is discernment? (To recognize, to distinguish, to tell the difference between, etc.)
We need discernment to make good choices—to recognize what is the best thing to do. We can't always rely on how we feel because our feelings can trick us (just as our eyes were tricked by these optical illusions). We must make decisions based on the truth of the Bible.
Items needed: blocks or Lego's or building materials, sand, large flat rock, and a pitcher of water
Divide kids into two teams and give each team one of the two foundations: a large, flat rock and some sand. Ask each team to build a house on their foundation. Do a test to see which house will stand the longest. (You may want to do this outside.) Pour the pitcher of water over the houses to see which one stays put. (Hopefully, the one on the rock will.)
Read Matthew 7:24-27. (The man who built his house on the rock is like a wise man that follows and obeys Jesus' words; the foolish man who doesn't listen to or obey the Bible is like one building a house on sand.)
Why is the Bible a good foundation for us to build on? (It is strong; it has been proven true; it will help us know the right things to do, which will help us build a better life, etc.)
We must use the Bible as a way to discern between right and wrong, between wise and foolish choices.
Green Light. Yellow Light. Red Light.
Use the stoplight to teach kids how to make decisions.
STOP and THINK (RED)
CAUTIOUSLY Consider the Choices (YELLOW)
GO GOD'S WAY (GREEN)
STOP and THINK—RED
Why is it a good thing to stop and think before making a choice? (Keeps you from just following the crowd, keeps you from reacting wrongly, etc.)
A wise person doesn't just follow the crowd. A wise person doesn't just do what he feels like doing. He stops and thinks before he does things. If we only stopped to think before we said or did anything, we might keep ourselves from saying or doing something wrong.
CAUTION, Consider the Choices—YELLOW
2 questions to ask:
1. Does the Bible say anything about this?
Not all choices are equal. Some are between right and wrong; some are between things that are wise and unwise.
If the Bible has specifically said something is wrong, we should choose NOT to say or do it. But not all choices are between right and wrong. How do you decide when you have a choice between two okay things?
2. What is the WISE thing to do?
GO GOD'S WAY—GREEN
Choosing to GO GOD'S WAY is always best. If something were clearly wrong, then the wisest choice would be to say no or walk away. If something is not wrong and it would be a wise thing to do . . . then do it! We want to be wise and choose daily to follow God's way and rules.
Give the kids some chances to practice making choices using the stoplight.
Some situations: your friends ask you to steal something; a friend wants you to disobey your parents; you want to eat cookies just before dinner; you want to play your video game but have homework, you have an hour of free time, etc.