This is lesson #9 in our curriculum called “God’s Good Rules” that helps children study the Ten Commandments. This lesson will explain why it’s wrong to steal from others and how God’s law teaches us to respect all property.. Download the complete printable lesson plan below. See all the lessons and find bonus learning activities on the series page: God’s Good Rules – A Study for Children on the 10 Commandments.
“Don’t Steal” Lesson #9 in the God’s Good Rules Series
Bible Curriculum for Kids on the 10 Commandments
Main idea: Working hard and giving generously is better than stealing.
Gather: Bible; dry erase markers or chart paper and markers; bean bag or small stuffed animal; painter’s tape; Ten Commandments Coloring Page 8th Commandment; For bonus ideas, see all our resources for teaching the 10 Commandments to Kids
Memory Verses: Psalm 119:1-2 “Joyful are people of integrity, who follow the instructions of the Lord. Joyful are those who obey his laws and search for him with all their hearts.”
- Exodus 20:15
- Malachi 3:8
- Philippians 4:19
- Psalm 34:9-10
- Ephesians 4:28
- Acts 20:35
More 10 Commandment Learning & Activities
- See our printable 10 commandments for kids version
- Compare our single Ten Commandment Sunday School Lesson
- Compare our single Preschool Bible Lesson on the Ten Commandments
- Moses and the Law of 10 Commandments (preschool coloring page)
- PDF Worksheets on the 10 Commandments
- Commandments Preschool Booklet [pdf] and Mini Book [pdf]
- Moses Songs for Preschoolers
- Go Fish Guys sing the 10 Commandment Song
- See the 10 Commandments for Kids on Sunday School Works
Teacher Preparation / Devotion
Read and reflection on the following: Scripture references, Leviticus 19:11-13, John 10:8-11, Luke 12:22-24
Take time to meditate on this week’s Scripture and think about your own life. You may not rob a bank or steal from your neighbor, but be on the lookout for more subtle forms of theft. “Fudging the numbers” on your tax return, or playing on social media during work hours, or not tithing. At its basic level, this commandment seems simple and straightforward. Don’t steal. Digger deeper, we can see that this commandment is about trusting God to provide everything we need. Take time this week to pray and search your heart for any fear concerning lack of security. Ask the Lord to help you trust him to supply all you need.
Lesson Introduction Game: Steal the Bacon
This classic game is the only time stealing is permissible in your class! If possible, play this game outside or in a large area, like a gym. Divide the class into two to four teams, with about six or seven kids on each team. (This ensures everyone gets a turn without too much waiting.) Mark a boundary line for each team on opposite sides of the room. Painter’s tape works well for this. Number off students so each team has the same number of players. If you have an odd number of students, you or another adult will need to play. Make sure every player remembers their number! For younger students, you may write their number on the back of their hand with washable marker, or give them a small sticky note with their number. Have players sit on their team’s boundary line.
Place a small stuffed animal, bean bag, ball, or crumpled paper in the middle of the playing area. When you call out a number, the players from each team with that number must run and try to grab the “bacon” and get it back to their boundary line before the other player(s) can tag them. If a player makes it back to their boundary with the bacon and without being tagged, their team earns a point. If the player with the bacon gets tagged before making it across their boundary line, the tagger’s team gets a point. Keep track of the score on the board. You may also want to use numbered scraps of paper to call out numbers of players, so it is completely random and every player has a chance to go at least once. Remind your students that their friendships are more important than winning. They must be gentle with one another. No tackling, only gentle tagging. Of course no name calling or rude behaviors are allowed either.
Children’s Bible Lesson “Do Not Steal”
Open in prayer, then say, I hope you all enjoyed our game today! Games like that are the only time stealing is allowed. Today we’re learning about the eighth commandment, which we can read in Exodus 20:15. Turn with me there now. (Read, or have a student read Exodus 20:15.) “You must not steal.” We have been learning about the Ten Commandments for a while now. We have learned that God gave us the commandments to help us live safe and happy lives with him and with our neighbors. The first four commandments help us to know how to love God. The last six commandments help us get along with our neighbors. This commandment is one that everyone, whether they obey God or not, can agree is a good thing. Who can explain what stealing is? (Allow students to answer.) Stealing is taking something that does not belong to you without permission and without paying for it. Now of course you know that stealing is wrong. That’s why God tells us not to do it. Today we are going to talk about why it’s wrong to steal, and what we out to do instead.
Why do you think God commands us to not steal? (Allow students to answer.) When we take something that belongs to someone else, we show that we don’t care about that person very much. Think about it. How would you feel if someone stole one of your favorite toys? You would be pretty upset, wouldn’t you? When you steal, it hurts the person you steal from. When you do something to hurt others, you are not being kind and loving, like Jesus wants us to. So the command to not steal is a command to protect not only people’s stuff, but people’s hearts from being hurt. It is a command to respect and care for others.
Now it seems pretty straightforward to not take things that belong to other people. But there is more to stealing than that. Usually when people think of stealing, they think of a bad guy in a mask, robbing a bank. If you think about it, there are many ways to break this commandment. Robbing a bank is one way. Let’s think of some other ways that we might break this commandment. (On the board, record your students’ answers. Some possibilities include: stealing a toy from a friend’s house, playing with a sibling’s favorite toy without permission, taking money from mom’s purse, taking a candy bar from the grocery store without permission, or taking someone’s snack at school.)
Those are all good examples of stealing. Now that we have covered some basics, let’s think a little more about what stealing may mean. Did you know that you can steal time? Think about when you are supposed to be doing your homework. If you mess around, complain, and play instead, you are stealing time from your family. You ought to get your homework done right away, so you have more time to play. The same thing goes for doing your chores, too. Adults can steal time from their bosses by not working when they are supposed to, or by working on things other than their job when they’re at work.
You can also steal someone’s reputation. Your reputation is what people think of you. When you gossip, saying mean or untrue things about someone, it hurts the way others may think about them. It steals away the good thoughts others have about them.
You can also steal ideas. Let’s say you are writing a research paper for school and you come across a paragraph in a book or online that sounds really good and would make sense in your paper. If you write out that paragraph without saying where you found it, if you just make it seem like you wrote it, you are stealing someone else’s idea. Imagine you are playing with your friends during recess, and your best friend comes up with an idea for a new game. So your best friends tells you, and you tell the whole group, but you pretend like it was your idea, not your best friend’s. That would be stealing your friend’s idea.
You can even steal from God! Malachi 3:8 says (quoted here from the NIV, which uses “rob” instead of “cheat,” as the NLT does.)
“Will a mere mortal rob God? Yet you rob me.
“But you ask, ‘How are we robbing you?’
“In tithes and offerings.”
We rob God when we do not give him our tithes and offerings like he tells us to. The money that you and your parents bring to the church is used to help those in need. When we don’t tithe, our church won’t have the money to help people who need help buying food and other things they need. When we choose to keep all the good things for ourselves instead of giving it to God, it is like telling God we don’t trust him to take care of us, so we have to keep everything we have so we have enough. Now that’s just silly. We know God gives us everything we need.
Let’s have a sword drill to prove just that. Take all fingers and bookmarks out of your Bibles and hold them, closed, above your head. When I say go, look up Philippians 4:19. Go! (Read, or have a student read, Philippians 4:19.) “And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.” God gives us everything we need!
Psalm 34:9-10 says, “Fear the Lord, you his godly people, for those who fear him will have all they need. Even strong young lions sometimes go hungry, but those who trust in the Lord will lack no good thing.” When you trust God, you can know that he will take care of you and give you everything you need. So there is no reason to steal. Stealing shows that you do not trust God to take care of you and that you do not care for the people he created.
Now, we know that stealing is wrong. We don’t want to take things that don’t belong to us. The Bible tells us what we can do instead of stealing. Let’s look at Ephesians 4:28. It says, “If you are a thief, quit stealing. Instead, use your hands for good hard work, and then give generously to others in need.”
Acts 20:35 says, “And I have been a constant example of how you can help those in need by working hard. You should remember the words of the Lord Jesus: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” From these two verses, we learn that working hard and giving generously is so much better than stealing! When you are focused on sharing and giving and working hard, you won’t even be tempted to dishonor God by stealing.
End in prayer.
Craft: 8th Commandment Coloring Page by Many Groce.
Have children write their name on the 8th commandment coloring page. As they color, discuss with them what they learned today. They may take the coloring pages home, or you may collect them to put together into a book to be sent home at the end of the unit. You can find options with printed text (instead of cursive script) when on the 10 Commandments Coloring Book page on our website.
Tithe Envelope Craft
Have each student color and cut out the tithe envelope craft. Fold along the dotted lines and glue the flaps along the sides to form an envelope. Remind the students that we are doing God’s will when we work hard and give generously, not when we steal. They can use this envelope to save up money they earn (through chores and odd jobs) to give as an offering at church.