(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 Have Self-Control
Scripture Reference: Galatians 5:22-23 (NLT)
Related Scripture References: Genesis 37, 39-42:7, Luke 4:1-13
(Compiled and written by Martin W. Wiles)
Objectives: To teach children that Jesus wants them to learn self-control.
Say: Today is the final lesson about fruit of the Spirit. Remember this is the type of 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 self-control.
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 at least 10 minutes on this section. Children need to think about ways to show self-control.)
• What do you think it means to have self-control? Explain to children that having self-control means not acting like you might want to or not saying what you might feel like saying. Let children think of some situations when they might be tempted to say or do something that would not demonstrate self-control. Let them tell about some instances when they’ve seen others not show self-control.
• Talk about the following examples of when the children would be required to show self-control.
How are you tempted to respond when someone makes fun of you or calls you names? A bully at school (If you as a teacher remember a bully from when you were in school, tell them the story.).
Imagine you are playing with one of your toys, and your brother or sister or another child takes it from you. What would you do?
What do you generally do when you are really hungry or thirsty? What if Mom tells you not to get anything right then because you will be having supper shortly?
What if someone tries to pick a fight with you?
Suppose you were at the beach building a sandcastle and your brother or sister or someone else came along and told you it looked stupid? Or knocked it down after you had worked really hard on it?
Have you ever had a temper tantrum when your parents made you do something you didn’t want to do or when they punished you by taking something away from you that you like to play with?
• Depending on the answers the children give, talk with them about how they could respond in ways that please God and show self-control as opposed to how they said they might have responded.
Remind the children that even though God loves us he doesn’t love the sins we commit. When we don’t show self-control, it is a sin. God shows self-control by not punishing us like he could when we sin. He does this because he loves us. He wants us to love him and others so much that we will also learn to be careful about how we act and what we say.
Give the children a blank sheet of paper and let them draw a picture showing Self-Control. Then let the students discuss what the picture is showing.
Play the giggle game. Remind children that sometimes it’s not appropriate to laugh and make noise (This is a good time to instruct children about their behavior in big church.). Have each child take a turn and try to make the others in the group laugh. Remind the other children that the object of the game is not to laugh regardless of how much they want to.
Bible Story Time:
Be prepared to tell the children the story of Joseph and his brothers.
Joseph was one of the twelve sons of Jacob. He was sort of the baby in the family, and his brothers didn’t really like him. When they would do something wrong, Joseph would tell on them and get them in trouble. He was a tattle tale. He also had dreams that he thought meant he would one day be a ruler over them and his father. So they hated him and made plans to get rid of him.
One day Joseph’s brothers were in the fields tending to their sheep. Jacob asked Joseph to go find them and see how they were doing. When Joseph’s brothers saw him coming, they decided this was a good time to do away with him. Their father wasn’t around to see what they were going to do. Some wanted to kill him, but they decided to sell him to a group of wandering traders instead. They in turn took him to Egypt and sold him again to a man named Potiphar who worked for the king.
Potiphar’s wife thought Joseph was a handsome young man, and she wanted him to do something with her that God didn’t want Joseph to do. When Joseph told her he couldn’t do it because it would make God and her husband mad, she got angry, told her husband a lie about Joseph, and Potiphar threw him in jail.
Sometime later, the king had a disturbing dream that none of the wise men could interpret. The king’s cupbearer suddenly remembered that Joseph had interpreted a dream for him, so he told the king about Joseph. Sure enough, Joseph told the king what his dream meant, and the king put Joseph in charge of the whole country.
The dream Joseph interpreted meant that a severe famine was going to overtake Egypt and all the surrounding countries. The famine came and got worse and worse. Back in Israel, Joseph’s father and brothers were starving. Jacob told his other sons to go to Egypt and get some food. Joseph was in charge of giving out food. When his brothers came to get food, this was the first time Joseph had seen them since they sold him. But instead of throwing them into prison or having them killed, he gave them food and eventually moved them, their families, and his father to the land of Egypt where there was food.
Ask: What does this story teach about self-control?
Wrap Up: Tell the children the story of Jesus being tempted by Satan in Luke 4.
When Jesus lived on earth, he once went into the wilderness to pray. For forty days, he didn’t eat anything. Imagine how hungry you would be if you hadn’t eaten for forty days. Satan loves to tempt us when we’re weak, so he came to Jesus and told him to turn some stones into bread if he was so hungry and was really the Son of God. Jesus refused. Then he told Jesus to fall down and worship him and he would give him all the kingdoms of the world. Again Jesus said no. Finally, he suggested that Jesus jump from the steeple of the Temple and let the angels catch him. Jesus told him no again and reminded him that we aren’t supposed to tempt God with foolish actions.
Ask: What does this story teach about self-control.
Take Away Questions:
• Go around the room and let each child tell one thing they can do this week to show self-control?