(All material is original to the author with the exception of songs and activities which have been borrowed from various sources. All studies are free for public use.)
Jesus Wants Us to Be Gentle
Scripture Reference: Galatians 5:22-23 (NLT)
Related Scripture References: Ruth 1-4, Hebrews 13:2
(Compiled and written by Martin W. Wiles)
Objectives: To teach children that Jesus wants them to be gentle with everyone but especially with those who need our help or who can’t help themselves because of something beyond their control.
Say: We will continue to study about fruit that doesn’t grow on trees but the kind God wants others to see in our actions. Today we are going to study about the fruit of gentleness.
Say: Let’s say our memory verses together. Galatians 5:22-23 But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! (NLT)
Ask: (Spend 10 to 15 minutes on this section. Children need to think about concrete ways they can be gentle toward others.)
• What does it mean to be gentle? Help them to understand the difference between a gentle blowing wind and those in a tornado or hurricane. Tell students the following story:
Opie was the son of Sheriff Andy Taylor on the Andy Griffith show. This was an old television show that came on some 50 years ago. On one show, Opie made a sling shot (You may have to explain to the children what a sling shot is.) He planned to use it to shoot rocks at cans or bottles, but his father had warned him never to shoot at animals and especially birds. On his way home one day, he randomly shot a rock into the trees and accidentally hit a mother bird who had a nest full of babies. The rock killed the mother, and Opie could hear the little babies crying. They missed their mother and had no one to feed them. He tried to hide what he had done from his father, but Andy eventually found out. Opie felt terrible; he hadn’t meant to kill the bird or even shoot at it. But none of that mattered now. The babies would die if someone didn’t care for them. Then he got an idea about how he could help. He began using an eyedropper to give them water, and he caught worms to feed them. Soon they were too big for the nest. He took them down one by one and placed them in a bird cage. Before long, they were flying around in the cage. Opie had grown to love them, but he knew he would soon have to release them into the wild where they could fly and be birds like God created them to be. In the end, Opie was proud of himself because he had been gentle with animals that couldn’t help themselves.
• What are some ways you can be gentle to others?
• What are some ways other people have been gentle with you? Talk about how their parents show gentleness with them. Parents do the following for their children because they love them and know they can’t do certain things for themselves: give them a home, provide food for them, buy them clothes and shoes, make sure they get medicine or go to the doctor when they are sick, protect them from danger. Let children suggest other ways their parents help them with things they can’t do on their own.
• Ask the children how a doctor is gentle with their patients.
Remind the children that just as God and others are gentle with them so God wants them to be gentle with others. This includes their parents, brothers and sisters, friends, teachers at school, and teachers at church, and even people who don’t like them. Help children understand that when we are gentle it shows we love God who is gentle with us. Ask the children if they can suggest some ways God shows gentleness with us.
Talk With Students about How They Could Be Gentle in the Following “If” Scenarios:
• If Mom or Dad is sick.
• If one of their friend’s grandparents dies and they are crying.
• If one of their classmates has their hands full and can’t carry their lunch to the table.
• If a new kid at their school is scared.
• If someone is bullying them.
Give children a blank sheet of paper and let them draw a picture showing “Gentleness.” Then let the students discuss what the picture is showing.
Since the children have learned almost all of the fruits of the Spirit, this would be a good time to let them play a Fruit of the Spirit game.
Bible Story Time:
Be prepared to tell the children the story of Ruth and Naomi in the book of Ruth. (If needed, more can be added to what is below.)
A long time ago a woman named Naomi, her husband, and their two sons lived in the land of Israel. When a famine struck their land, they were forced to move. Not long after they left, Naomi’s husband died. In this time, this was a very bad thing. There were not many jobs for women, and they had to depend on others to help them. Otherwise, they might fall into poverty and even starve to death.
Naomi’s two sons fell in love with two women in this new place and eventually married them. One of the women was named Ruth, and there is an entire book in the Bible named after her. But soon, Naomi’s sons also died. This left Naomi and her two daughters-in-law. Three women living alone. What would they do? Naomi heard that the famine in her old homeland had ended, so she decided to return. Since these two girls were not her real daughters, she told them they could stay in the land where they had grown up. One of them decided to do just that, but Ruth loved her mother-in-law and wanted to go with her.
After they returned to Israel, they had to decide how they were going to take care of themselves. Ruth asked Naomi if she could go out into the fields and pick up the leftover grain the harvesters dropped. She did. She worked hard, and one of Naomi’s relatives noticed it. His name was Boaz, and he and Ruth eventually got married. But Ruth never forgot Naomi. She showed gentleness by helping care for someone who needed help.
Ask: What does this story teach you about gentleness? What could Ruth have done instead of going with Naomi? Would this have shown gentleness?
Wrap Up: Read Hebrews 13:2 (NLT) Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it!
Take Away Questions:
• What is one thing you can do this week to show gentleness to someone?
• Name some ways others have been gentle with you.