I’m so excited to bring this guest post to you from my friend Sarah, at Bible Baton
This is another post in the Discipleship Corner Series. If you haven’t read the series, I’d like to invite you to join us! I recommend starting with Seven Keys to Effective Family Discipleship. Thanks for joining us! ~ Amber
Sick of listening to your kids argue?
Bickering. Tattling. Name-calling.
It gets SO tiresome after a while!
As a mother, you can talk, talk, talk to your kids about getting along. You can use little tips and tricks to make them act more nicely. In fact, you can do a lot to mold their behavior using rewards and consequences.
But if you haven’t reached their hearts, they’ll revert just as soon as your back is turned.
If you want to see lasting change in your kids, you’ve got to help them be internally motivated. They’ll always end up fighting until they have an intrinsic motivation not to.
A Bible lesson on sibling relationships
I believe teaching children what God’s Word says about their behavior is the most effective way to reach their hearts.
So today I’m sharing a Bible-based lesson and activity about sibling relationships, including:
- A key passage of Scripture, so you know where these principles come from in the Bible.
- A simple yet engaging Intro Activity to catch your kids’ attention from the get-go.
- A bullet-point lesson outline that makes teaching super easy for you! Plus you get a few simple ideas to make the lesson interesting for your kids.
- A fun activity that will help your kids apply biblical truth in their own sibling relationships.
This lesson enables you to address your kids’ fighting without actually saying anything about it! Instead, you’ll let the powerful Word of God reach your kids’ hearts, affect their attitudes, and change their behavior.
Key Passage: Genesis 32-33
This is part of Jacob and Esau’s story. We’re jumping into the middle of the story, so if your kids aren’t familiar with Jacob and Esau, you may want to back up and teach your kids about their history. You can start with this free lesson plan about Jacob and Esau’s parents.
In this segment, Jacob is coming back home after years away. The last time Jacob saw his brother, Esau he had wanted to kill him. Now, Jacob is scared out of his mind about seeing Esau again.
These two brothers aren’t exactly a stellar model of “sibling relationships,” are they?
But something unexpected happens when Jacob and Esau come face to face again.
And you can use their story to teach your kids about practicing graciousness toward their siblings.
Find pictures of various emotions. You can look for free-use photos online, or cut pictures from old magazines and newspapers. You’ll need at least 2-3 pictures for each of these emotions:
You may also add other emotions as desired. Just make sure you have at least 2 pictures of each.
Introduction Activity: Matching Faces
- Lay out the “emotion pictures” you printed out earlier.
- Choose one picture from each “emotion” category. This will be the category “title picture.” Lay the “title pictures” in various locations around the room (on end tables, on the couch, on a shelf).
- Now challenge your kids to sort through the pile of remaining “emotion pictures” and match them with the correct “title pictures.” By the end of the activity, there should be a small pile of matching “emotion pictures” with each of the “title pictures.”
- If you have older kids, you can give them a time limit to complete the activity (to make it more exciting).
- Or divide into teams. Have one team work on half of the categories while the other team works on the other half. They can race to see which team matches all their “emotion pictures” first.
- After the activity is completed, talk about how physical features (eye color, hair color, etc.) aren’t the only way you can look like another person. Your attitude can make you resemble other people, too. For example, a person who is happy will make the same sort of smiling face as another person who is happy. An angry person won’t look like a happy person.
Lesson Outline: Jacob & Esau Meet Again
Point 1: Jacob Prepares to Meet Esau
- In the Bible, there’s an example of how someone’s attitude can make him look like another person. It’s in the book of Genesis, when Jacob and Esau meet after years apart.
- The last time Jacob saw his brother, Esau had wanted to kill him (because Jacob had stolen from Esau and tricked their father into giving him Esau’s inheritance).
- Jacob had fled from home after Esau threatened to kill him. But now God had directed him back home. After more than 20 years, he was going to meet his brother Esau again. He had no idea how Esau might respond to him, but he knew he deserved Esau’s wrath. And he was scared out of his mind about seeing Esau again.
- Tell your kids to look around at the piles of emotions pictures you made during the Introduction Activity.
- Ask, “Which of these pictures shows how Jacob felt?” Your kids should choose the “scared” emotion. Tell one child to bring you one of the scared pictures.
- Ask, “Which of these pictures show how Jacob thought Esau would feel?” Your kids should choose the “angry” emotion. Tell one child to bring you one of the angry pictures.
- Lay the scared picture and the angry picture side by side in front of you as you continue teaching.
Point 2: Jacob and Esau Meet Again
- Jacob sinned against Esau. He knew he deserved for Esau to be very angry with him. So he was very, very afraid of what Esau might do—especially when he heard that Esau was coming out to meet him with 400 armed men!
- As Esau got closer, Jacob ran out in front of his family to meet Esau first. He expected Esau to attack him with violence, and he wanted to protect his family if he could.
- But “Esau ran to meet him, and embraced him, and fell on his neck and kissed him and…wept” (Genesis 33:4 NKJV).
- Wow! That wasn’t the response that Jacob had expected!
- Tell your kids to look around at the pictures again. Ask, “Which of these pictures shows how Esau actually felt when he saw Jacob again?” Your kids should choose the “happy” emotion. Ask one child to bring you one of the happy pictures. Lay the happy picture on top of the angry picture in front of you, so that the angry picture is covered up.
Point 3: Esau Acted Like God Does
- Jacob deserved Esau’s anger. But Esau acted graciously toward Jacob. Instead of being angry, Esau met Jacob with joy and love and forgiveness.
- Jacob was so amazed that he exclaimed, “…to see your face is like seeing the face of God, now that you have received me favorably” (Genesis 33:10 NKJV).
- Esau had acted graciously toward Jacob. He treated him with kindness, even though Jacob didn’t deserve it. And seeing Esau act that way reminded Jacob of God Himself!
- That is really amazing. Imagine how Esau felt, when Jacob told him that seeing his face was like seeing God. What an honor! How happy that must have made Esau. I’m sure he was very glad that he chose to be kind and loving toward his brother—even when Jacob didn’t deserve it.
- And it made Jacob feel happy, too. They were both so much happier because Esau chose to act like God. Take another “happy” picture and cover lay it on top of the “scared” picture so it is covered up. You should end the lesson with two “happy” pictures in front of you.
Application Activity: Practice Graciousness at Home
Challenge your kids mimic Esau and choose to be gracious, like God. This activity is your chance to help your kids apply the principle from the story to their own sibling relationships!
- A small piece of card stock (about the size of a business card)
- A hole punch
- Ribbon or yarn
- 2 jars
- Several small balls (the cheap rubber bouncy balls work fine—just grab a pack or two at the dollar store)
- Use the hole punch to make a hole in the corner of the card stock.
- On the card stock, write, “Our ‘Looking Like God’ Challenge Jar.”
- String a short piece of ribbon or yarn through the hole. Now tie the ribbon around one of the jars.
- Use marker to draw smiley faces on the balls. Place the balls in the other jar.
Explain that this challenge will help all of you practice acting like God (being gracious, kind, loving, etc.), just like Esau did!
- The objective is to fill the challenge jar with smiley faces.
- Anytime during the day when someone is acting like God would (being kind, gracious, etc.), anyone can grab a smiley face ball from the unlabeled jar and drop it into the challenge jar.
- But if you hear or see someone fighting or being mean to a sibling, you can pull a smiley face back out of the challenge jar and put it back into the unlabeled jar.
- So kids will want to work together to avoid fighting and to practice kindness and graciousness (so that the challenge jar gets filled).
- At the end of the day, sit down and count how many smiley face balls are in the challenge jar. Praise your kids for the number of times during the day that they acted like God. Point out that, when they act that way, seeing them is like seeing God. The proof is in the challenge jar! Encourage them to get even more balls in the jar tomorrow.
And enjoy watching your children’s behavior change as they try to reflect God’s face, just like Esau did. I encourage you to refer back to the story from time to time when you find your children arguing. Try to avoid simply talking about their behavior; try to touch on the heart of the issue. Point them to the Scriptures and to the Lord. And have fun “passing the faith along” to your kiddos!