Bible Lesson: Using Words to Encourage (Proverbs 12)

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Bible Lesson: Words Encourage or Hurt Others
This Proverbs teaches us that our words have the ability to either build up or tear down those around us.  We can destroy friendships that we spend years building instantly with a few words.  We can also use our words to completely turn around someone’s day. As Christian’s we should speak truth to each other.  The Lord detests lies, but brings joy to the truthful.
Lesson Title:   Words
Bible Reference:  Proverbs 12:18-22
Target Age Group: Elementary to Middle School
Learning Context: Sunday School
Target Time Frame: 45 minutes
Memory Verse: “The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” Proverbs 12:18
Learning Aim: 

  1. Use your words to build others up, not tear them down.

Basic Supply List:

  1. Bible
  2. Chalk/Chalk board
  3. Construction Paper
  4. Markers

Optional Learning Activities:

  1. Show the “Speak Life” video from TobyMac. Discuss the examples from the video of words helping or hurting others.
  2. Play the “Encouragement Game”

Note: In the teaching plan below the words in italics are meant to be read aloud. The regular text is simply directions for the teacher.
> > > > Basic Teaching Plan < < < <
Introduction: Begin the class by greeting each student.  Ask them to try to think of a time when someone said something that made them feel really good.  What did they say? Allow a few students to share.  Now, have them think of a time when someone said something to them that did not make them feel good.  Write this question on the board (or just say it out loud) “Do the words that you say matter?” Allow the kids to consider this for a few minutes, possibly with a partner.  Then lead a discussion about how the words we say affect those around us. In conclusion, the words we say have to power to make people feel a certain way, and we must always use our words to build people up.
Biblical Evidence: Ask the class to open their Bibles to Proverbs 12:18-22.
Read verse 12:18 with the class. Say, This verse helps us compare helpful words with hurtful words.  We use reckless words when we just say something without thinking about how it may make the other person feel.  When we stop and think before we speak, and we put the other person before ourselves then we speak wisely.  If you are arguing with someone, you may say something that will hurt the other person’s feelings. What could you do in this situation to help to make sure that you don’t say something that you will regret later? Possible answer: You could walk away and talk to them later when you have calmed down.
Read verse 12:19.  Say, What is this verse telling us about the difference between lies and truth? The truth will never change so we should build our lives on truth. If we build our lives on lies then we run the risk of having to create more and more lies so that we can keep up with our lies. Eventually, we won’t be able to keep up with our lies and we will have to give in and tell the truth.  Do not be like this, just tell the truth in the first place.
Read verses 12:20-21.  Say, If we speak badly to those around us then we have deceit in our hearts.  Perhaps we are speaking with the intent of hurting the other person.  As Christians, we are called to love one another.  To do this we must always stop and think before we speak.  Spend time learning scriptures so that it will always be on your mind and when you are tempted to say something mean you will speak truth instead.  Only trouble comes to liars.  Speak the truth and you will be blessed.
Read verse 12:22.  Say, The last reason that we should speak truth is to please the Lord.  In Exodus 20:16, God gives the commandment not to lie.  We have to follow this commandment.  If we want to make God happy, then we should follow his commands. 
Autographs:  Give each child a piece of construction paper and instruct them to write their name in the middle of the piece of paper in marker.  Then have the children pass the papers around the room. The children will write something positive (a compliment or encouraging word) on their classmates papers.  When everyone has finished writing on the papers, you can either display them in the classroom or allow the kids to take them home.  Remind the kids that positive words such as the ones listed above can make someone’s day.  Encourage them to use their words wisely.
Telephone: Talk to the class about gossip and explain that when we gossip we often get facts wrong and can end up hurting our friends’ feelings.  Gossiping is wrong and we should not do it.  Encourage them to speak to their friends directly if they have a problem.  To illustrate how things can get twisted around, play a game of telephone.  Start by whispering a sentence or phrase to one student.  They will whisper it to the next student and so on, until everyone has heard the sentence.  The last child will say the sentence out loud.  The sentence will likely have changed into something completely different.  Explain that this is like what happens when we gossip.
Review: Review the following questions to review the lesson. Sample answers are in parenthesis.)

  1. How can our words pierce like swords? (Angry words can hurt people’s feelings.)
  2. How can our words bring healing? (We can say kind things to each other.  We can speak scripture to each other as a way of healing.)
  3. What are the dangers of telling lies? (When we tell lies we may become so entangled in our lies that we do cannot remember all of our lies and we fall flat.
  4. What kind of life might we have if we tell the truth? (A life that pleases God. A simple life. A happy life because we don’t have anything to hide.)
  5. Why should we think before we speak? (So we don’t say something that we might regret later.)
  6. What can we do when we are angry and tempted to say something unkind? (We can just leave the conversation for a while until we feel calm and then talk to whoever we are angry with.)
  7. Which commandment did we talk about today? (We talked about Exodus 20 and the commandment not to bear false witness.)
  8. What is something that you can say today to others to encourage them? (any compliment or scripture.)

Conclusion: Close by praying with the class and encouraging them to use their words for good this week.


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