Use this children’s Sunday School lesson the fifth Beatitude to teach kids to be forgiving.
Needed: Bibles, writing and drawing paper, crayons or colored pencils
Intro Game: To Forgive or Not to Forgive
Print out or write the words Forgive or Don’t Forgive on a set of index cards. You should have an equal number of cards that say Forgive as Don’t Forgive.
Divide students into two teams, and have the teams line up on separate sides of the room in single file lines. Mix up the cards and give each student a card that says Forgive or Don’t Forgive. Set a timer for 3-5 minutes, depending on how many students you have. When you say “Go!” the first student on each team runs toward each and show each other their cards.
If one says Forgive and the other says Don’t Forgive, the student with Forgive scores a point for their team. The person with Don’t Forgive does not score. If both say Forgive, both score a point and if both say Don’t Forgive, neither does. Both return to the back of their lines and trade their cards for a new card.
As soon as they leave the center, the second two players run up and do the same thing. Play continues until the timer runs out. The team with the most points at the end wins.
Ask, How do you think people decide if they are going to forgive someone or not?
Tell students, Imagine this: You’re outside playing, and one of your friends hits you and calls you a name. What would you do? Would you hit them back? Would you go tell on them?
(As the leader, tell a story from your own life about a time when someone was merciful to you or when you were merciful to someone else. Example: A 16-year-old girl side-swiped my car while it was parked outside on the curb and broke my driver’s side mirror off. She came to the door to apologize. What should I have done to her for hitting my car? I could have made her pay to get my car fixed. Or I could have called the police and asked the police to give her a ticket. But instead, I told her it was okay and let her go. I had mercy on her and forgave her.)
(Read Matthew 5:7.)
“Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.”
What does that word “mercy” mean?
It means you don’t punish someone or get them in trouble when they do something wrong. You forgive them.
God could punish us for the wrong things we do, couldn’t He? We all do wrong things sometimes. But God doesn’t want to punish us. He wants to have mercy on us and forgive us. That’s why He sent Jesus to die on the cross for us so that we could be forgiven for all our sins. If you believe in Jesus, God forgives you for all your wrong things.
So, now that God has forgiven us, do you think He wants us to forgive other people? (Yes.)
God wants us to forgive everyone. If they hurt us very badly, we don’t have to go around them anymore, but we can still forgive them. We don’t have to stay angry at them. God wants us to let go of our anger and our hurt feelings and forgive that person.
Who can you forgive? When someone is mean to you or calls you a name, can you have mercy on them and forgive them? (Yes.)
When someone hits you, can you forgive them? (Yes.)
When someone doesn’t want to play with you, can you forgive them? (Yes.)
Jesus wants us to forgive everyone and to remember that God has forgiven each of us.
Activity: Acting It Out
Divide students into groups of two or three. Have each group decide on and act out a scene in which someone does something wrong to another person, but the person they wronged forgives them instead of trying to get back at them or get them in trouble.
Craft: Forgiveness Letters
Give students writing and drawing supplies. Have them a letter to Jesus thanking Him for forgiving them. They can add a picture of Jesus on the cross a scene that depicts Jesus forgiving them.
Lord, we thank You for always forgiving us, no matter we do. Help us to be merciful and to forgive other people when they do something to us. Amen.
You can also find this lesson for Kindle or in print in my book, Jesus Teaches on the Mountain.