(3) Our love for others will show us more about the character of God, and will help us love and trust God more.
Remember: A virtue is something God does in us to change the world around us.
This week, we’re discovering:
Our Bible story comes from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:43-47) when He challenges us to love not only our neighbor, but also our enemies. He goes on to say that we should even pray for the people who persecute us! Our Bottom Line is: Love others, even your enemies.
It makes a lot of sense when you think about it. If we love only people who love us, how hard is that? Everyone else easily does that. How does that show that we are different from others and deeply loved by a God who sent His Son to save us when we didn’t deserve it?
This week is a great reminder that God loves everyone equally—even those who are still doing bad things. So should we. It makes it even more important to see ourselves connected with the other people around us as we continue to memorize this month’s verse: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”Matthew 22:39, NIV
Love Your Enemies Bible Story: Love Your Enemies (love your enemies) • Matthew 5:43-47
Bottom Line: Love others, even your enemies.
Memory Verse: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Matthew 22:39, NIV
Virtue: Love—choosing to give someone your time and friendship no matter what.
Basic Truth:I should treat others the way I want to be treated.
Plug In: Focus the Energy (Small Groups, 10-15 minutes) Focus the energy on today’s Bible story in a Small Group setting with an engaging discussion question and an interactive opening activity.
2. Good Guy/Bad Guy
What You Need: “Good Guy/Bad Guy” (Activity Page), markers, paper strips, tape
What You Do:
Tape your Good Guy and your Bad Guy to the wall of your meeting space. Tape the blank strips of paper near each one. Call out the names of some characters from movies the kids in your group might have seen and let them shout out whether they think they are good guys or bad guys. Help kids write the names of those characters on the blank pieces of paper and let them take turns taping the papers next to each sketch. (Good guys listed near Good Guy sketch, and bad guys near Bad Guy.) If time is tight, you can write the names yourself and show kids. Next, call out the names of some people in your church or community. Ask kids to identify those people as good guys or bad guys.
What You Say:
[Transition] “For some reason, it’s really easy to label people as good guys or bad guys. We can make quick decisions about people like that. And then we can be friends with the good guys and try to ignore the ‘bad’ ones. But is that what God wants us to do? Let’s go to Large Group and find out!”
Lead your group to the Large Group area.
Catch On: Make the Connection (Small Groups, 25-30 minutes)
Make the connection of how today’s Bible story applies to real life experiences through interactive activities and discussion questions.
2. Musical Enemies (application activity / great for boys)
What You Need: construction paper, music
What You Do:
Lay out your colored paper around the floor of your meeting space in random order. Help the kids in your group brainstorm about who might be an enemy. Guide the conversation more to people who do wrong things that can hurt us: kids at school who pick on us, a sibling who isn’t always the nicest, etc. Encourage kids to keep their descriptions of these people short; don’t let them get gossipy or overly negative. Also encourage kids not to go around saying, “So and so is my enemy.” Just help them unpack the word and then move on.
Next, ask them how you can love a person like that. (As you identify the people your kids consider enemies, you may want to modify the list below to better fit your kids.) Invite kids to stand anywhere. Play move-inspiring music (something like a march or the chicken dance). Tell kids that when they hear the music, they will dance around the spots. When the music stops, they should jump to the dot nearest them. Invite kids to answer a question based on the color of the spot they landed on. Here are some questions:
Green: How do you love a bully? (Take some time to give an example of things a bully might do to help them identify bullies. Help them to know that loving a bully doesn’t mean spending time with him/her and getting picked on even more. It just means wanting good for that person, praying for them to be a better person, showing kindness, etc.)
Red: How do you love someone who lies about you? (Has another kid ever told on them to get them in trouble when they didn’t do anything wrong? Other examples? Talk about the importance of being truthful and kind, even when people aren’t that way to you.)
Blue: How do you love a mean teacher or strict parent? (Sometimes parents and teachers ask a lot of us, and sometimes we get in trouble. We may think our parents or teachers are mean, but we must show respect. We can pray for them too, asking God to help them be kinder and more understanding.)
When you are finished with your game, celebrate all the good answers your kids came up with. Then [Personalize] tell a story about a time someone acted like an enemy to you and you decided to love them anyway. What happened?
What You Say:
“Great job with that game, guys! That was fun! [Apply] Listen, when someone mistreats us, we’re not given a long time to think about our responses—what we will do. If we practice like this ahead of time, it’s a great way to help us treat our ‘enemies’ as Jesus wants us to treat them—with kindness and with a lot of prayer.You know that you are all supposed to [Impress] love others, even your enemies. Had you ever thought about this before? (Any answer is okay here.) What do you think now? Do you think practicing helps? How has it changed how you’re going to be this week?”
Pray and Dismiss What You Need: paper lunch sacks, stapler, marker, glue sticks and Prayer Journal Notes (Activity Page)
What You Do:
To make this journal: put two paper lunch sacks on top of each other, facing two different directions so that the bottoms of the bags aren’t on the same side. (Orient the bags so that, when vertical, one of the bottom flaps is on top and one is on the bottom.) Fold the bags in half once and staple down the folded side three times to make a binding. The result is a photo album that will allow for six pictures, plus a front and back cover, as well as two pockets to hold their prayers. You can practice ahead of time to see how it will turn out. Kids will probably need help stapling, but if you demonstrate the steps for them and work as a group, they should be able to mimic your actions to prepare their own journals.
Once you have made the book, invite kids to use markers to write the word “Pray” in large letters on the front covers. (On a chalk or dry erase board, write the word “Pray” for kids to copy.) Ask kids to take these home and work with their parents to glue in pictures (photos or drawings) of people they want to pray for. Before you pray, help them individually to identify someone they are struggling with who may feel like an enemy. On a small slip of paper, work with them to write a prayer to God for an enemy. Fold the prayer and put it in one of the pockets of the journal. Help kids glue both of the “Prayer Journal Notes” on the back for parents to see.
What You Say:
“We know we are supposed to [Impress] love others, even our enemies. But that can be very hard. [Apply] We will never have the strength to love our enemies if we don’t get help from God. And the best way to get help from God is to pray and ask Him for it. When we pray for our enemies, He will make us more able to love them. Let’s pray. God, thank You that You listen to our prayers. Please hear the prayers these kids wrote to You today. Please help them to love even the people who aren’t very nice to them. We ask these things in Jesus’ name, amen.”
Give each child a GodTime card. Pass out Parent Cue cards as adults arrive for pick-up. Please show parents the Prayer Journals and the notes on the back of them.