Use this children’s Sunday School lesson on Jesus’ command to teach children how to speak well to others.
Needed: Bibles, various objects, “Joe” paper doll, tape, writing and drawing paper, crayons or colored pencils
Intro Game 1: Don’t Say It!
Have the students pair up. They take turns asking each other questions. The person answering, however, can’t use certain letters. For the first round, they might not be able to use words with the letter “s.” If they do, their partner gets a point. Continue for a couple of minutes and then, change the letter they’re not supposed to use. The student with the most points (caught their partner using disallowed letters the most times) wins.
Explain that in the game, students weren’t allowed to say certain letters but that in life, we shouldn’t say certain things to people.
Intro Game 2: Wrong Purpose
Divide students into groups of three. Hand each group a common object and tell them that they have to come up with a skit that shows them using that object in a different way than it was made for.
Give the groups a few minutes to think of something and then let each group perform their skit. As each group finishes, ask them why their object wouldn’t work very well for the purpose they showed?
Explain that God made our tongues and mouths for a certain purpose. He made them so that we could use them to say nice things to each other, but we sometimes use them for the wrong purpose and say mean things to each other.
Make and color a paper doll ahead of time. When it’s time for the lesson to start, have students sit in a circle and then, bring out the paper doll and introduce the students to the doll as if the doll were a real person. You can name the doll anything you like, and make it either sex you want, but I usually call him Joe.
Tell students to pass Joe around. When it is their turn to hold Joe, instruct them to call him a name or say something mean to him. They should then rip a piece off of Joe (such as an arm or a leg, or if you have a large group, a part of an arm or a leg) and keep it before passing the rest on.
When Joe has gone around the circle, ask students, How do you think Joe felt when we were calling him names and being mean to him?
Has anyone ever called you a name or been mean to you?
How did that make you feel?
(Read Matthew 5:21-26.)
Jesus says that people will be punished for murdering people. What else does Jesus say people will be punished for? (Being angry with other people and calling them names.)
Jesus even says that calling a person a bad name could get you sent to Hell.
Why do you think Jesus doesn’t want us to call each other names or insult each other?
God loves every person, and He doesn’t want us to hurt someone else’s feelings by calling them a bad name. He wants us to love other people and be nice to them just as God loves them and is nice to them.
Jesus says that if we are worshiping God and remember that we’ve done something wrong to someone, we should stop worshiping God and go apologize to the person that we did something wrong to. Why do you think Jesus says that apologizing to people is so important that you can interrupt worshiping God to do it?
God doesn’t want us simply to come to church and worship Him. He wants us to be nice to other people, and if we do something wrong, He wants us to apologize for it. God will know that we’re not really being one of His followers if we’re always mean to other people.
(Pass Joe around the circle again. This time, tell students to say something nice to Joe or to apologize for what they said before and then, tape the part that they ripped off back on.)
Remember, being nice to people and not hurting people is part of what it means to be a real follower of Jesus.
Craft: Lifting Letters
Give students writing and drawing supplies and ask them to write a letter to one or more people saying something nice to them. If they can’t write, they can draw that person a picture.
Remind students that God wants us to say nice things to other people.
Jesus, please help us to watch our tongues and control our temper so that we don’t say anything to someone else. We want to be Your followers and say only what You want us to say. Amen.
You can also find this lesson for Kindle or in print in my book, Jesus Teaches on the Mountain.