Use this children’s Sunday School lesson to teach kids to be patient and forgiving.
Needed: Bibles, soft balls or paper wads
Intro Game: Don’t Hit Dodgeball
Divide students into two teams. They stand at opposite sides of your play area. Their goal is to not hit the other team while making the other team hit them. If someone throws and hits a member of the other team, they’re out. Meanwhile, members of the other team can dive in front of thrown balls to get the thrower out.
Players can’t hold balls. They have three seconds to throw, or they’re out. If a ball stays on one side for more than five seconds, the whole team is out. You can pretend the balls are bombs that they want to throw out of their area without hitting anyone else.
The first team to get all the members of the opposite team out wins.
Ask students, Has a friend or a brother or sister or someone at school ever hit you?
What do you do when someone hits you? Do you get angry and hit them back?
(Read Matthew 5:38.)
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’”
What do you think the rule “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” mean?
It means that if someone punches you in the eye, you’re allowed to punch them in the eye. If someone knocks out your tooth, you’re allowed to knock out their tooth. Whatever someone does to you, you’re allowed to do it back to them. If someone hits you, you can hit them back. That was the rule in the Old Testament.
(Read Matthew 5:39.)
“But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.”
What does Jesus say we should do if someone hits us? Does Jesus want us to hit them back?
Jesus says we should let the person hit us, and even let them hit us again and not hit them back!
Jesus showed us to live this way when He died on the cross. When the guards were hitting Him, He never hit them back. He loved them by not hitting them.
(Read Matthew 5:40-42.)
“And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.”
If someone wants to take something from you, like your tunic or shirt, what does Jesus say we should do?
Jesus says we should let them have our shirt and then also give them our cloak, or jacket, too.
Jesus says we should give anything to anyone who asks for it.
Why do you think Jesus doesn’t want us to fight back when someone hits us or when they try to take something from us?
Jesus knows that hitting people is wrong. If someone hits us, that’s wrong. But if we hit them back, we’re also doing something wrong. Even if someone hits or takes something from us, Jesus wants us to do the right thing and not hit them.
Jesus wants us to be the better person and not lose our temper. It’s hard, but we have to ask Jesus to help us love people who are doing bad things to us and not lose our temper with them.
Game: Alex and Alicia
Help students apply the lesson by giving advice to two fictitious students. Tell students that you’re going to tell them a short story. Then, they’ll have to decide what the character in the story should do.
Story #1: Alex’s Pesky Brother
Alex’s brother, James, has been bothering him all day. He just won’t leave Alex alone. Alex has tried to ask James to go away nicely, but that didn’t work. Alex told his mom about it, and his mom made James leave him alone for a little bit, but when their mom isn’t looking, James just starts bothering Alex again. Alex is getting really angry, and he thinks that maybe if he hits James, that’ll make James go away.
What do you think? Should Alex hit James to make him go away?
(No. God doesn’t want us to hit or hurt anyone, even if they’re really bothering us. We have to keep our tempers under control and solve the problem in a different way. Maybe Alex could talk to James and tell him how much he’s bothering him. Maybe Alex could play with James to give him some attention.)
Story #2: She Hit Me First
Alicia and Lisa got into an argument at recess. Alicia thought High School Musical 2 was the best, but Lisa liked High School Musical 3 better. They started to really argue about it and then, Lisa suddenly smacked Alicia on the arm. It hurt, and Alicia really wants to smack Lisa back.
What should she do? Should Alicia hit Lisa back?
(No. God doesn’t want us to hit or hurt anyone, even if they hit us or hurt us first. God wants us to forgive and love other people, not hurt them. Maybe Alicia can ask Lisa to apologize. If Lisa won’t apologize, maybe Alicia can walk away and talk to someone else for a while.)
Story #3. What to do about the Bully?
Alex and Alicia were walking home from school one day. When they turned the corner, they saw Jimmy, the school bully, punching Chris, a kid who was younger than them.
What would you do if something like that happened?
Alex wants to run in and fight Jimmy to protect Chris. Alicia says he shouldn’t because they’re not supposed to hit. What should they do?
(No one should hit anyone else, even if it’s to protect someone. Instead, maybe Alex can go stand between Jimmy and Chris to break up the fight. Maybe Alicia can call an adult for help.)
Game: Don’t Hit Dodgeball
Play the intro game again and remind students that Jesus wants us to not hit other people, even when they hit us first.
Jesus, help us to love everyone, even when they do something wrong to us. Help us to control our temper and to be giving and forgiving toward everyone. Help us to be like You. Amen.
You can also find this lesson for Kindle or in print in my book, Jesus Teaches on the Mountain.