Use this children’s Sunday School lesson to teach kids to be sincere in their spirituality.
Needed: Bibles, a random object
Intro Game: Sneaky Giving
Students sit or stand in a wide circle with their eyes closed. Choose one student to stand in the middle of the circle. They are the Giver. Hand them a random object to lay in front of one of the students in the circle. Their goal is to do so quietly so that the person doesn’t hear them.
If the person does hear them, they can reach out and try to tag the Giver. If they succeed in the tagging the Giver, the Giver loses that round. If the Giver succeeds, they win the round.
After the Giver has either laid their object down successfully or been tagged, the students open their eyes. The student with the object in front of them, or who tagged the Giver, becomes the next Giver.
Ask students, Have you ever known someone who just liked to show off and brag all the time?
What do you think about people who show off and brag all the time? (Nobody likes a show-off.)
(Read Matthew 6:1-4.)
“Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.
“So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”
Do you think Jesus want us to give money to help poor people? (Yes.)
Does Jesus want us to make a big deal about it when we give money and tell everyone that we’re doing it? (No, because that would be showing off.)
Jesus wants us to do good things, but He doesn’t want us to show off when we do them. We don’t do good things to get attention or to make people think about how great we are. We do good things because we love God and we love other people, and it’s the right thing to do.
(Read Matthew 6:5-8.)
“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.”
Do you think Jesus want us to pray? (Yes.)
Does Jesus want us to show off and use big words and talk for a long time in front of people when we pray? (No.)
Using big words and talking for a long time in front of other people when we pray is just showing off.
What does Jesus say we should do when we pray?
He says we should go in our room or somewhere where we can be alone and have time to talk to God by ourselves.
Jesus said that we don’t need to pray for a long time and use a lot of words when we pray. Why not?
God knows what we need before we ask Him. We don’t need to explain everything to God or try to convince Him to help us. He already knows what we’re going to ask for. We should simply ask Him for it in a simple way, like we would ask our parents for something.
So, remember, do good things for God and pray to Him because you love Him, not because you want to show off in front of other people.
Game: Hearing the Hypocrite
Students sit or stand in a circle with one student in the middle. Choose another student to be the Hypocrite. The person in the middle closes their eyes or wears a blindfold and tells the group to make a noise like an animal of their choice. The Hypocrite, however, makes a different noise. The person in the middle has to guess who the Hypocrite is.
The Hypocrite then takes the middle spot, and the person who was guessing silently chooses the next Hypocrite.
Play until everyone has had a chance to be in the middle or as long as time permits.
Afterward, explain that the Hypocrite was trying to blend in with the rest of the group, but we could still tell there was something different about them. When real hypocrites say they’re Christians, they’re misusing God’s name. And people can tell when they’re not really Christians by how they act or talk.
Jesus can tell who the hypocrites are because they only do good things or pray to Him to show off for other people. They don’t really mean what they’re doing to be for Him.
Prayer Exercise: Spending Time with Jesus
Have students separate around the room. Ask them to spend 5 minutes praying to Jesus. Tell them that they can talk to Jesus about anything they want to. After 4 minutes, ask them to stop talking to Jesus and to listen to anything He might want to say to them in their heart.
Game: Sneaky Giving
Play the intro game again for as long as time allows. Remind students that when we give or when we do something nice for someone, Jesus doesn’t want us to show-off about it. Sometimes, when we do something nice for someone, they don’t even need to know that it was us. We can do it in secret so that we make sure we’re not showing off about it.
Jesus, help us to want to do things to honor You, not to show off to other people. When we pray, help us to do it because we want to talk to You, not because we want other people to see us praying. Help us to do things for the right reason. Amen.
You can also find this lesson for Kindle or in print in my book, Jesus Teaches on the Mountain.