Having a strong and mature relationship with Jesus Christ requires deliberate actions that model one’s faith. In this second part of the “Book of James” series, children will explore what James 2 has to say about a Christ-follower’s actions matching the word of God.
TARGET AGES: 10-12
OBJECTIVE: To teach the children that addressing personal sin, actively serving others, and trusting God’s plan are all ways that will help them become stronger in their faith.
MAIN IDEA: Growing stronger as a believer requires deliberate actions that represent one’s belief in Jesus Christ.
SCRIPTURE PASSAGES: James 2:8-11, 14-17, 20-23
MATERIAL(S): 10 index cards, writing utensils, “Acting on Faith” worksheet (download attachment)
Introduction (10 minutes)
OPENING PRAYER: “Lord, show us how to move forward in our faith through intentional, Christ-like actions. Amen.”
ICE BREAKER ACTIVITY:
Say, “Today we are discussing how our actions should match our beliefs, but first we are going to participate in an activity that will identify the actions of common jobs.” Prepare at least ten index cards with a well-known occupation (teacher, doctor, policeman, etc) written at the top of each card. Allow the children to choose a card and ask them to list several actions for the job. When everyone is finished, ask each person to share their list and briefly discuss additional actions for each job. Lastly, comment, “We can now understand that having a title, such as teacher, doctor, or policeman, requires matching actions. The same is true for as a Christians!”
Lesson (15 minutes)
- Briefly discuss the book’s author, James (the brother of Jesus), and remind the class that his book explains how to become a strong (mature) believer. Ask, “Does anyone remember James’ occupation (the lead pastor of the Jerusalem church)?” Emphasize that because he was responsible for teaching many people, James’ book contains spiritual guidance that is easy to understand, but it is addressed to those who are Christians. Share the gospel with the class and allow a few moments for the children to respond. Then say, “James points out sin and directly tells us how to deal with it as believers. Let’s get started with James 2 to learn how our actions must match our beliefs.”
- First, explain that we have to deal with personal sin. Read James 2:8-11. Ask, “What sins are addressed in this passage (favoritism, adultery, murder)? What is unique about those particular sins (they hurt others)?” Emphasize that we must ask God to show us our sin and be aware of how it affects others if we want to become strong and active believers. Say, “Apparently there was an issue with believers in James’ day acting as if their sins were insignificant in comparison to other sins. However, the entire bible tells us that all sin disqualifies us from saving ourselves and makes us ‘lawbreakers’.” Reiterate that a growing Christian will become more aware of his or her own shortcomings in view of God’s gracious gift of salvation through Jesus Christ (instead of excusing or overlooking personal sin).
- Next, read James 2:14-17. Ask for a volunteer to summarize the message of these verses (our actions must match our beliefs). Comment, “This passage gives the example of telling someone to ‘keep warm and well fed,’ without giving them clothes or food. Can we think of additional examples of mismatched faith and actions (such as consoling someone without praying for them or not helping a classmate with their homework because you’d rather do something else)?” Discuss how faith without actions isn’t faith at all – it’s dead! State that strong and active believers understand that their actions play a pivotal role in their faith and make sacrifices to serve God and others.
- Comment, “This last passage uses Abraham as an example of someone who actively lived his faith. But before we read, let’s talk about what we already know about Abraham.” Allow some time for the children to comment about Abraham’s life, such as being God’s chosen patriarch of the Hebrew people, being married to Sarah, or having his son, Isaac, at a very old age. Read James 2:20-23. Ask, “What specific event in Abraham’s life did James use to show his actions matched his faith (offering his son Isaac as a sacrifice to God)? What blessings did Abraham receive for being obedient (“credits” of righteousness, he was called God’s friend, etc)?” Explain that even though Abraham didn’t end up actually offering his son Isaac as a sacrifice, God was pleased that he was willing to be obedient in such a profound way. Say, “Sometimes acting on our faith can be scary, but the Lord will help us be active in our faith when we trust his plan and rely on his strength.”
Acting on Faith (Worksheet) *Attachment* (15 minutes)
Pass out the worksheet, “Acting on Faith,” and help the children as needed. (download attachment) Consider completing the worksheet as a class if time allows.
Conclusion (5 minutes)
RECAP: Growing stronger and more active in our faith requires recognizing and repenting of sins, deliberately serving others, and obediently trusting God even when we don’t understand his plan.
CLOSING PRAYER: “God, show us every day how to act according to your word. We want to be stronger in our faith and lead others to you. Amen.”