Use this children’s Sunday School lesson to teach kids how to not judge others.
Needed: a wood board, decorative bags or boxes with dirt inside and a plain bag or box with cookies or another prize inside
Intro Game: Looks Can be Deceiving part 1
Set out a series of decorative bags or boxes on a table. These bags all have dirt in them. Set one plain bag or box in a visible but inconspicuous location elsewhere in your room. This plain bag or box has a snack or prize to share with the group.
Tell students that there’s a snack or prize in one of the boxes. Then, ask for one volunteer at a time to come up and choose one of the bags or boxes. They open it to reveal dirt. One student might spot the plain bag or box. If they do, they can choose to open it instead of the more decorative options.
If no students choose the plain bag or box, tell them that there must be one more option somewhere in the room. The first one to spot it gets to open it.
Then, explain that looks can be deceiving. Just because something looks nice on the outside doesn’t mean that it has something good on the inside. And sometimes, what doesn’t look very special on the outside does have something wonderful inside.
God always judges by what’s on the inside, not what’s on the outside. He judges our hearts, not what we look like.
Looks Can Be Deceiving part 2
For the second part of this demonstration, you’ll play an active game. It can be almost anything that kids know the rules for. The trick is that you’ll change one of the normal rules. If you’re playing soccer, for instance, set up a goal as usual but also set up a cone to mark the boundaries of the play area. Without telling students, you’ll decide that a team gets a point whenever they kick the ball “out of bounds,” not when they get a goal.
Let the kids figure out the new rule. Then, explain that it looked like the point of the game was to kick the ball into the goal, but looks can be deceiving. Just because something looks how it should be doesn’t mean that it’s right. God looks past how something looks, and so should we.
Once kids figure out the new rule and you give them the explanation, you can continue playing by the new rule or revert back to normal rules, whichever is easier.
Hold a piece of wood up to your eye and then say to your students, Oh, no, I think you all have something in your eyes. It looks like you all have a little piece of sawdust in your eyes. Here, let me help you pick it out. (Act as if you’re going to reach into a couple of the students’ eyes.)
Do you think I can see well enough right now to help you get something out of your eye? (No.)
Why not? Why can’t I see very well right now? (I have a board sticking out of my eye.)
(Take the board down.) Right. I couldn’t see very well because I had a piece of wood held up to my eye. But that’s kind of how we are sometimes. We tell other people that they ’re doing something wrong or that there’s something wrong with them, just like I told you that you had a piece of sawdust in your eye, but we don’t think about what we’re doing wrong or what’s wrong with us.
I had something wrong with me when I held that board up to my eye. I wanted to tell you that you had a piece of sawdust in your eye, but I had something even bigger in my eye. I had a bigger problem than you did. There was something wrong with me more than there was something wrong with you.
Jesus said that if we want to tell someone that they’re doing something wrong, we have to think to about what we might be doing wrong first. I have to take the board out of my eye before I talk to you about the piece of sawdust in your eye. I have to stop doing my wrong things before I tell you to stop doing your wrong things.
For example, if you get into a fight with someone and you want to blame them for all the things that they did wrong, first think about the wrong things you did to them and what you did to start the fight. You should always think about the wrong things you do before you blame other people for the wrong things they do. You have to take care of your wrong things first.
(Read Matthew 7:1-5.)
“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
Jesus also tells us not to judge other people. And one reason we shouldn’t judge other people is that we might be wrong. It might look to us like somebody is doing something wrong, but they’re not. It’s just like how the bags (or boxes) earlier looked like they might have something good in them, but they didn’t. A person might look like they’re doing the wrong thing, but they’re not.
(Have students sit in a circle, if possible, and close their eyes.) I don’t want anyone to talk right now. I just want you to think and remember some things. I want you to think back to the last time you got mad at someone. Try to remember what they did to you to make you mad…
Now, think about what you did to that other person. Did you do something bad or mean to them first? Did you do something bad or mean to them after they did something bad or mean to you?…
Remember to think about what bad things you’re doing before you get mad at someone for their bad things.
Jesus, help us not to judge other people or point out what they’re doing wrong until we’ve looked at what we’re doing wrong. Help us to be more concerned about changing what we do than changing what other people do. Amen.
You can also find this lesson for Kindle or in print in my book, Jesus Teaches on the Mountain.