“Give Something Up? No way!”
The following Children’s Message is intended for grades 1st-6th and was initially utilized for a Christian Elementary School Chapel. However, it can also be adapted to meet your specific ministry needs.
Materials: bathrobe, slippers, pillow, remote, pretzels, pictures of athletes, doctors, missionaries, and/or other accomplished people; Bible with references marked; $10 bill; [print_link] this lesson plan
Raise your hand if you like giving stuff up. Like if I asked you to give up your Wii or your favorite stuffed animal or that new toy from Christmas, how many of you would say, “Yes! I want to! Please let me give it away….NOW!”
To be honest, I don’t like giving stuff up either. I like things to go my way, I like things to be easy, fun, and simple, and I like to be comfortable. (Put on bathrobe, slippers, get pillow and remote. Sit down, relax, eat a few pretzels.) I like this kind of life.
Is there a problem with this? (No, God wants us to rest.) But what if I spent every hour of every day changing channels in my pajamas? Is there a problem with that? What would it be? (God has a purpose and job for each of us and it’s probably not watching the Cartoon Network.)
(Show pictures of the following individuals: Athletes, Doctors, Missionaries, and/or other people who have sacrificed – Musicians, Soldiers, Pastors.)
Do you think these people got where they are today watching cartoons every hour of every day? Or do you think they may have needed to give up something or sacrifice to be successful?
- What would an athlete need to give up? (junk food, free time, their homes – if they have to train elsewhere)
- How about a doctor? (free time, money for education, years of their lives, etc.)
- What would missionaries need to give up? (their homes, cultures, family, freedoms, money, favorite foods, etc.)
Each of these people, in their own ways, have achieved great things. But it seems like they needed to give up something – in some cases – a lot of things to achieve greatness. This is called sacrifice.
What does God have to say about sacrifice, or giving things up?
Turn with me in your Bibles to Matthew 8:18-20. What did Jesus give up in these verses? (A home! He left the mansions of heaven to come to earth and He never even had a place to lay His head!)
But do you know what He was really telling this guy?
He was saying that if you want to follow Jesus, it’s not going to be comfortable. It’s not going to be easy and it’s probably not going to go your way.
Jesus tells it like it is.
Now I don’t know about you, but I don’t like hearing it how it is. I can be a wimp! I can be lazy! I can make a lot of excuses!
Are you good at making excuses too?
- Set the table, please. It’s time for dinner. (I can’t mom. Too much homework.)
- Did you finish your homework yet? (Oh, no. Actually, there’s this program on TV that I really need to see. It’s educational.)
- Are you done watching your educational show yet? (Oh, no. I had a bad day and now I need something to cheer me up, so this cartoon is doing the job.)
What are some of your lame excuses? To your parents, your teachers, your pastor, God?
Jesus heard just about every excuse there ever was. Let’s look at these today. For our Bible reading, I need you guys to be detectives and try to figure out the excuses people gave in these passages.
- Matthew 8:21-22: A family excuse. I can’t follow Jesus because I’m waiting for my dad to die.
- Matthew 19:21-22: A money excuse. I can’t follow Jesus because I have a lot of fun stuff that I don’t want to give up.
- Mark 9:43-47: A bad habits excuse. I can’t follow Jesus because I like sinning. It’s kind of fun, even though I know I shouldn’t do it.
- Luke 14:16-20: A lot of ridiculous excuses. I can’t come to the banquet because I just bought a field and I have to look at it. (Did he buy it before he saw it?) I can’t come eat dinner because I just bought animals and I have to try them out. (Why would you buy animals if you don’t know if they’re good or not?) I can’t go to the party because I just got married. (None of these make any sense!)
We can laugh at the excuses in the Bible and some of them are pretty funny, but the sad thing is that these people missed the best party ever! This was a banquet feast! Picture the fanciest restaurant, the yummiest food, limos to the party, royal treatment, etc!
You know what? I don’t think I get God sometimes. Maybe I don’t fully trust Him. Because when He asks me to sacrifice, I complain and whine and make excuses… not even realizing that He’s got a better plan in mind.
God would never have you give up something good if He didn’t have something better for you up His sleeve.
(Do an object lesson with money. Ask a child to give you some change or a dollar bill – whatever is in his/her pocket. Make sure you tell the child that he/she will never see the money again. Are you willing to give it up? Make a big deal about the child’s sacrifice and after the child returns to his/her seat, give them a ten dollar bill to keep.)
(Repeat the phrase), “God would never have you give up something good if He didn’t have something better for you up His sleeve.”
(Introduce the children to someone who sacrificed something for Jesus, but who received greater rewards than they could’ve ever imagined. This may be your own testimony or the testimony of your pastor or a missionary. Whatever it is, make it personal. Make sure to include benefits like more joy, peace, patience, endurance, a greater faith in God, and a closer relationship to Jesus – who is the greatest gift we could ever receive.)
Now I understand that giving something up can be scary. Like what if God asks you to give up some money you were saving to help a child have food in another country? Or what if God asks you to stop spending so much time on your Wi and instead read your Bible? Or what if God asks you to stop being popular and hang out with someone who needs a friend?
Giving something up is scary and sacrifice will always cost you, but you can trust God. You can trust God. You can trust Him. If you don’t remember anything today, remember that you can trust Him.
We’re going to close in prayer in just a moment. But before we do, what is the greatest example of sacrifice that the world has ever seen? (Jesus, the Son of God, dying on a cross for our sins – so that we might not die, but have everlasting life.) Jesus sacrificed His life for each of us, because He loved us. He gave up everything to be with you. What are you willing to give up or sacrifice for Him?
(Close in prayer and make sure to extend an invitation to speak with you or a teacher or pastor about how they can know Christ as their Savior.)