Jesus helps his followers understand that gathering material wealth doesn’t gain you anything in the kingdom of heaven. It’s possible to have material wealthy but have a heart that is far from God. God’s intention for us is that we would be rich toward him, meaning that we don’t base our decisions purely on what we can gain and we don’t put our confidence in material possessions. We want to communicate to the children that the things we have are a gift from God and should be used in a way that honors God.
- Being rich toward God is more important than the stuff we have.
- Everything we have is a gift from God.
“Instead, seek God’s kingdom, and these things will be added to you.”
– Luke 12.31 (ESV)
If you’re doing this lesson as part of a series, then explain to the kids that each week you’re looking at a different parable that Jesus told. Explain that a parable is a story told to help people understand something about God’s kingdom.
Ask the children if they’ve ever been in an argument with a sibling or a friend over a book or something that they wanted to play with. As the teacher you might want to tell of a time that you struggled to share something with someone else. Sharing isn’t always easy but it’s an important part of living in God’s kingdom. Jesus understands that we find it difficult to share because we don’t understand what it means to be rich toward God.
One day a man came to Jesus and told Jesus that his brother didn’t want to share with him. The man was angry at his brother and wanted Jesus to tell the brother to share with him.
Tell the Story from Luke 12:13–21, being careful to explain some of the terms along the way.
Inheritance: Money or possessions left to the sons by their father. The older brother was normally responsible for sharing inheritance according to the father’s will.
Judge or arbitrator: Someone who settles disputes between people.
This is a great story, but what does it mean for us? I have an idea! I’m going to tell you a story just like the one we just read! But first, I have a question: If you could get anything for your birthday, what would it be? [Collect answers. You could use a white board or similar method to display answers]
Thanks for all these great answers guys! I think I’m ready to tell my story now. Let’s pretend we all lived in the same neighborhood and no one had any toys or things to play with. But there was this one kid down the street named Tommy who had A LOT of stuff. [Start listing toys he had, by going down the list you gathered from the kids] But Tommy was really selfish. Even though Tommy had so many things that he couldn’t ever use all of them, he would never give any away, he wouldn’t share any, he wouldn’t even let any of us play with any of them! Then one day his parents decide to move to another country and he couldn’t bring any toys with him. So he had to leave the toys behind. In the end, no one was happy.
I heard another true story recently about a girl (we’ll call her Sarah) who got a beautiful pair of roller-blades for her birthday. They were really awesome roller blades in her favorite color. Sarah was so happy with her gift but she didn’t want to use them because she was scared that they would get scratched or dirty. She wouldn’t let her little sister use them and she wouldn’t let her friends try them. Months later Sarah finally decided to try them out but do you know what happened? When she put them on her feet they didn’t fit her anymore. She had outgrown them and she couldn’t use them anymore.
Sad story, right? Now here is Jesus’ point: We shouldn’t be like Tommy or Sarah. They were scared of losing their stuff and missed opportunities to share with others. Their stuff was more important to them than other people. All good gifts come from God and we should use the stuff we have to be a blessing to those around us!
So how can we be generous like Jesus? Here are a few examples:
- When we have a snack or dessert and someone doesn’t have any, you could share it with them.
- Do you have extra toys? Maybe you should donate them to boys or girls who don’t have toys.
- Or maybe you have a great spot in line? Maybe you could let other people go ahead of you?
Thank God that he has given us stuff to enjoy and to use to glorify him. Pray that we would never value material possessions more than God and that the children would be rich toward God.
- What was the rich man’s idea? Did it sound like a good idea to him?
- Why wasn’t it a good idea?
- Why do you think sharing is important?
- What are some other ways you could be generous like Jesus?
Game (Shoe Grab)
Supplies: No supplies needed. Just the children’s shoes.
Split children into 2 teams. Volunteers can also play! Have both teams remove their shoes and pile their team’s shoes one side of the room next to where their team will line up. Split each team in two and send half of them to the other side of the room. The middle of the room will be the “Barn” where the shoes will be stored.
The two teams on the side with the shoes will do a relay to get their pile to the barn in the middle of the room. Line them up and the first person from each team will run one shoe to their barn, then run back and tag the next person in line who will then run another shoe to the barn. (Only ½ of the team will do this while the other half cheers them on and waits for their turn) Teams continue this relay until all the shoes are in their barn in the middle of the room. The last person with a shoe will drop it in the barn and then run to the other half of their team lined up on the other side. They tag the first person who runs to the barn and takes one shoe, runs back to their side and starts a new pile and tags the next person in line. This person runs and gets one shoe and returns with it and so on. The team who fills their barn and empties it first, is the winner!
Finale: Place both team’s shoes in one big pile in the center of the room. Have the 2 teams line up on different sides of the room. When you say “go” all the kids run and find their own shoes and put them on. The team who gets all their shoes on first wins!
The moral….a big pile of shoes may look cool, but we only need one pair of shoes to play! Don’t be greedy!
Craft Idea (Jeweled Cross)
Supplies: Paper, toy jewels, scissors, marker, glue.
Prepare a cut-out cross for each child with the words “Be rich toward God” on it. Let the children stick plastic jewels on their cross to decorate it.
Feature Image Credit: The Parable of the Rich Fool by Rembrandt, 1627.