Choose one or more Bible stories that are appropriate for your children. If the Bible passage is too complex for your children, paraphrase the story yourself or use the summary provided under “key concepts.”
Jesus showed that He loved children by holding them and blessing them. When we think of those who love us, often it’s our parents, grandparents and close friends and relatives who love us. These people demonstrate their love by treating us in a way that shows they care about us. We can follow their example by treating others in a way that shows we care about them.
Mark 9:36-38 “
And He took a child and put him in the midst of them, and taking him in His arms, He said to them, ‘Whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me, and whoever receives Me, receives not Me but Him who sent Me.’ ”
Mark 10:13-16 “
And they were bringing children to Him that He might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them. But when Jesus saw it, He was indignant and said to them, ‘Let the children come to Me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.’ And He took them in His arms and blessed them, laying His hands on them.”
Read Luke 7:36-50.
When Jesus was visiting at the Pharisee’s house, a woman wet Jesus’ feet with her tears, wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them. This might seem odd, but it was all part of the way they showed honour to someone in Bible times.
The Pharisee said that if Jesus really was a prophet he would not have let the woman do this because she had been known to have led a sinful life. So Jesus told the Pharisee a little story to teach him a lesson about love.
Through the story Jesus pointed out how much the woman loved him. Then Jesus politely told the Pharisee how he could have been more considerate of Jesus as a guest in his home. Jesus pointed out that the Pharisee had not greeted him with a kiss, given him any water to wash his feet, or put oil on his head – all of which were common customs in Jesus’ day when you welcomed a guest into your home.
Jesus was telling the Pharisee that the things we do for people demonstrate how much we love them. Jesus did not reject the woman because of her sinful past. Instead He looked at how sorry she was for her sins and offered her forgiveness.
Matthew 25:40 “
And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these My brothers, you did it to Me.’ ”
Read Matthew 19:16-30.
The rich young man knew he had enough money to take care of his needs for his whole life on earth, but he was wondering what he could do to get ready for eternity. So the rich young man asked Jesus what he needed to do to make sure he would go to heaven.
Jesus knew how much this man cared about his money. Jesus asked the rich young man to go and sell everything he owned and give the money to the poor.
If we imagine Jesus visiting with us in our home, we can guess that He might ask us to give some of our money and food away too. He also might ask us to share our toys and the other things we use for entertainment.
The rich young man went away sad, because he didn’t want to give away his money. Peter was very surprised that Jesus had asked the rich young man to do this and asked Jesus, “What about us who have left everything and followed you?”
Jesus assured Peter that he would be rewarded in heaven, and then Jesus told Peter that those who are “first” – or always looking out for themselves – will end up last, and that those who are last will end up first in heaven.
When we are tempted to worry about our own needs instead of the needs of others, we can remember the story of the rich young man and do the things that God asks us to do willingly, even when it means putting the needs of others ahead of our own.
Proverbs 19:17 “
Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and He will repay him for his deed.”
Proverbs 22:9 “
Whoever has a bountiful eye will be blessed, for he shares his bread with the poor.”
1 Corinthians 10:24 “
Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor.”
Read Luke 11:37-43.
Jesus could see what was inside the Pharisees’ hearts. He knew that they were greedy, wanting to have more and to have the best for themselves. When the Pharisee criticized Jesus for not doing the ceremonial washing required by the Jewish law before eating a meal, Jesus pointed out that having a clean heart is more important than having ceremonially clean hands. He told the Pharisees that they should:
a) be generous to the poor
b) be concerned about being fair and
c) love others instead of worrying about following the rules in order to look good.
Jesus also criticized them for wanting the most important seats in the synagogues.
Jesus wanted the Pharisees to be sincerely concerned about the well-being of the people, not just about themselves.
We can be sure that Jesus would give us the same advice. He might say something like, “Care about truly sharing the love of God with others and about living righteously. Don’t just worry about giving your offering each Sunday. If you really love God, you will take care of the poor and delight in giving money to those who need help. I want you to have an attitude that says, ‘What can I give to others?’ not ‘What can I get for myself?’ And don’t take advantage of others. Instead, look for ways you can put others’ needs ahead of your own.”
1 John 3:17 “
But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?”
James 2:14-17 “
What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and filled,’ without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.”
Read 2 Kings 20:12-21.
When people have something they are proud of, they like to show it off. If a child has a new toy, he or she is usually excited about showing it to his or her friends. Adults love to drive around town and take their friends for a drive when they purchase a new car.
In our Bible story today, Hezekiah had been sick and some people from a far away place called Babylon came to visit him and to bring him get-well wishes. Hezekiah showed his visitors all the treasures he had stored up, and we can guess that Hezekiah did this to show off how rich his country was.
Later, Isaiah came and told Hezekiah that he had done a foolish thing and that someday all the treasures and some of his descendants would be stolen and carried off to Babylon.
Hezekiah wasn’t overly concerned about this because he figured it wouldn’t happen in his lifetime. That was pretty selfish thinking: Hezekiah wasn’t worried about what might happen to his children, grandchildren and their children.
In Hezekiah’s case, we can guess that he was proud of all his riches and wanted to show them off. Pride has a way of making a person self-centred and less concerned about others.
Jeremiah 9:23-24 “
Thus says the Lord: ‘Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.’ ”
Philippians 2:3-4 “
Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”
Note: This Bible story discusses murder and death and could be disturbing for some children. If you wish, you could tell Nathan’s story of the pet lamb instead, as a story on selfishness.
Read 2 Samuel 11:26-27 and 2 Samuel 12:1-10.
When David had Uriah killed so he could have Uriah’s wife, David was thinking solely about himself and getting what he wanted rather than caring about Uriah or obeying God.
The Bible tells us that what David did displeased the Lord. God sent the prophet Nathan to talk with David about his sin. To help David understand how wrong his actions had been, Nathan told David a story of a man who took one lamb from a poor family, even though he had many lambs of his own already.
After hearing the story, the Bible says David burned with anger against the man who took the lamb and said that the man deserved to die! When David realized the story was actually about his own sin, David confessed, “
I have sinned against the Lord” (2 Samuel 12:13).
The lesson we can learn from this story about David is important; we need to remember that selfishness can cause us to be very inconsiderate of others. When we want something really badly for ourselves, we can be tempted to ignore the feelings of others and hurt them in order to get what we want.