Main idea: We store up treasure in heaven when we focus on serving God and being generous to others.
- Read Scripture references (below)
- Spend time in prayer. Pray for your students. Take time to evaluate, where do you store your treasures, on earth or in heaven?
- Gather: Bible, dry erase board and markers, a few dollar’s worth of pennies, envelopes, glass (see through) baking dish, dark paper, a cross, masking tape, activity page, crayons or markers, scissors, glue,
- Heaven & Earth Columns (PDF)
- Treasures Clipart (PDF) pictured above
- Use this video queued up on a screen “Uncle Scrooge Money Swim” from YouTube
- Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21
Treasure Hunt Game
“Treasure Hunt.” Before your class arrives, hide a few dollar’s worth of pennies all around your classroom. Make some very obvious, and others less so. Have enough pennies that everyone in the class is able to collect a few at least. When the students arrive, have them write their names on an envelope. Have them leave their envelopes on their seats.
Tell the class, “we are going to have a treasure hunt! I have hidden hundreds of pennies around the classroom today. Your job is to find the pennies and put them in the envelopes. You may put the pennies in anyone’s paper envelopes. You may put them in your envelope or you may put them in any other envelope you want. You MAY NOT ask other students to put pennies in your envelope. This must be done on your own free will. You MAY NOT steal pennies out of other’s envelopes. You may only add pennies to them. Once all of the pennies are found, we will count how many are in each bag.”
Allow the kids to begin the treasure hunt. Observe their behaviors. Watch especially for the children who put pennies in the envelopes of their fellow classmates. Once all or most of the pennies have been collected, have the children take the envelope with their name on it and count how many pennies are inside. Ask how many pennies each student collected. Once everyone has announced how many pennies they have, ask “who won?” Most likely, the children will answer that it was the child who collected the most pennies. Ask them, “why? Why did they win? I did not say that the winner would be the one who collected the most pennies. In fact, I never once mentioned that there would be any winner to this game. Now why would most of us think that the winner is the one who has the most money? That is exactly what we are going to learn about in today’s lesson.” Have the children put their envelopes of pennies under their seat.
Instead of pennies, if desired, use tickets or slips of paper. These can be used at the end of class as money at a “prize shop.” The kids may use their tickets to buy gifts for others or for themselves. If using this option, be sure to leave time at the end of class.
Lesson on Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21 :“Real Treasure”
Open in prayer.
Say, “before we answer the question why we think the winner is the one with the most money, let’s first read our Scripture for today. Open your Bibles to Matthew 6:19-24. I will read it out loud as you follow along. To get a picture of what is going on here, Jesus is talking to a crowd about how to live righteously. Follow along as I read:
‘Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.’
We are going to look at this teaching of Jesus in three parts. Let’s start with verses 19-22. (Reread this section.) ‘Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.’ These verses start with a command from Jesus. He says, do not lay up, or store up, treasures on earth. The picture Jesus is trying to give his listeners is that of someone hoarding earthly treasures. Picture a dragon sitting in his cave, guarding a big old pile of gold. Or picture this guy: (show video of Scrooge McDuck. Start at :27 and go through 1:22. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NBRrCY5uhWY. Disclaimer: I am in no way affiliated with this video. It’s just a silly example of storing up treasures on earth.) That guy is the exact opposite of who Jesus tells us to be. Scrooge McDuck found all his happiness in his money. What would he have done if someone stole all his money? He would be devastated! He would have nothing left! His heart was just set on his treasure. Now, I don’t know about you, but I don’t have a ginormous vault full of gold. But I do have my own treasures. I have things I love, and would be very upset if I lost some of them. Like this jacket. I love this jacket. And my computer. I love my computer. I would be very upset if I lost this jacket or my computer. Can you think of some of your own treasures? (List the children’s responses on the board under the heading ‘earthly treasures.’) Is it wrong to own these things? Of course not! The problem comes when we think that these things are the most important things in our lives. So Jesus tells us that instead of hoarding treasures on earth, we are to pile up treasures in heaven. Can I store up my jacket and computer in heaven? Nope. These aren’t the treasures Jesus is talking about. Treasures that we can store in heaven are the things we do to serve God. Can you think of some of the treasures we can store in heaven? (List the children’s responses under the heading ‘heavenly treasures.’ Include things like pray, read the Bible, share our toys, help feed the hungry, etc.) So Jesus wants us to store up heavenly treasures instead of earthly treasures. No matter where are treasures are, that’s where are heart is going to be. So we can have our focus, our joy, and our love on things are earth, on things that may get stolen or fall apart, or we can have our focus, our joy, and our love, in heaven, by doing things to serve God.
The second part of today’s scripture is verse 22 and 23 of Matthew 6. It says, ‘The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!’ This part seems a little confusing when you just read it, so here’s a little demonstration for you. When this verse says ‘the eye is the lamp of the body,’ another way to think about it is to think of a window. (Hold up glass baking dish in front of your face.) When you look through a window, you can see everything going on outside. We can see happy people, sad people, people who love Jesus, and people who don’t believe in Jesus. When people look through the same window, they can see us. When people look at our lives, they should be able to see Jesus and the good things he has done in our lives. What happens when we pull the curtains shut on a window? (After the kids answer, put dark paper inside dish and look through it.) We can’t see. We can’t see happy people, sad people, people who love Jesus, or people who need Jesus like we are supposed to. And they cannot see the good things Jesus has done in our lives. You can’t see me make silly faces at you, and I can’t see you make silly faces at me. (Put the glass with the paper in it in front of your face, make a silly face and pull it away. Do this a few times, to make the kids giggle.) We have to remove the darkness from our lives and let the light of Jesus shine through for everyone to see. We have ‘healthy eyes’ when we see people around us and help them.
Let’s look at the last verse before we answer the question, why we think the winner of our game was the one with the most money. Matthew 6:24 says, ‘No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.’ Let’s play a quick game of Simon says. Everyone, stand up and stay in front of your seat. Now for this game, you must listen to both me and my assistant. We are both Simon, and you must do what we both say, at the same time. (Along with your assistant, call out Simon Says motions. Both of you call out different motions at the same time, that cannot be done at the same time, such as hop on one foot and run in place, do jumping jacks and put your hands on your hips, smile and frown. Stop after about three calls and have the kids sit.) That was pretty hard, wasn’t it? No one could listen to both Simons at the same time. It was impossible. That’s the idea when Jesus tells us no one can serve two masters. Jesus says we cannot serve both God and money. That word money, doesn’t just include money. It means all of our earthly treasure. We cannot love all of the things we own, and hoard them and not share them, and serve and love God at the same time. It is not wrong to have money and stuff. What matters is what we do with it. Do we pile it all up and keep it to ourselves, or do we use it to help others?
So back to our question. Why did we think the winner is the one with the most money? Because that’s what the world tells us. TV, movies, music, and people all tell us that our worth is found in what belongs to us. But as Christians, we know that it is not about what belongs to us, but about who we belong to. We belong to Jesus, who died for our sins. When we serve him by sharing our earthly treasures with those in need, we store up real treasures in heaven. So think about those pennies you collected during our game. They are your pennies. I don’t want them back. I want you to make a decision about those pennies. They are now some of your earthly treasure. Will you store that treasure up for yourself, where it may get lost or stolen, or will you use it to help build up heavenly treasures? How can you use those pennies to store up heavenly treasures?
End in prayer.
Craft: “Heavenly vs. Earthly” treasures worksheets. Pass out a columns page and a treasures page to each child. Have scissors and glue sticks available. Go through the columns, describing each picture. (money, praying, toys, telling others about Jesus, sharing our toys/being kind to others, a car, giving food to the needy, and clothes.) The kids must cut out each picture and glue it into the proper column. Is the treasure an earthly treasure or heavenly treasure? Once they have glued each treasure into the correct column, they may color the pictures.