Bible stories

This section provides Bible stories with the theme of self-control, along with questions that can be used as a guide for family discussions. Choose one that is most appropriate for your children. Before reading aloud, take a few minutes to review the story. If the Bible passage is too complex for your kids, paraphrase the story yourself or use the summary provided under “key concepts.”

Jesus fights temptation

Read Luke 4:1-13.

Questions for discussion
  1. Tell me about a time when you were really, really hungry.
  2. How badly do you want to eat when you are just starving?
  3. Can you imagine how hungry Jesus must have been after not eating for 40 days?
  4. If you had not eaten for 40 days and you had the power to turn stone into bread, would you?
  5. Jesus had all the power in the world and Satan tempted him to show it off, but Jesus didn’t. How did Jesus resist temptation?
  6. How can we use Scripture to help us maintain self-control?
Key concepts

The Bible says Satan tempted Jesus for forty days. During this time, Jesus did not eat. Satan tempted Jesus with food, power and the opportunity to show off His power and to honour Himself instead of God.

When Satan tempted Jesus, Jesus used Bible verses to tell Satan why He wasn’t going to do what he asked Him to do. The Bible also tells us Jesus was full of the Holy Spirit, which means God helped him be self-controlled. It is the same for you and I. If we try to fight Satan and temptation on our own, it is difficult, and perhaps impossible. If we ask God to fill us with His Holy Spirit to help us fight Satan and temptation, we can be strong and victorious like Jesus.

Picking fights

Read Genesis 26:17-22.

Questions for discussion
  1. What do other kids do when they want to pick a fight?
  2. How about your brother/sister?
  3. How do you feel when someone says that something you own is his/hers?
  4. What happened to Isaac’s servants?
  5. What did they do?
  6. How many wells did they have to dig before the herdsman of Gerar didn’t bother them?
  7. What is the best thing to do if someone picks a fight with you?
Key concepts

Isaac’s servants had moved into a new territory. Part of moving into new territory involved finding water for the flocks they were caring for. As Isaac’s men dug wells, the herdsman living in the new territory argued with them and kept claiming the wells as their own.

Instead of fighting back and fighting for the wells that were rightfully theirs, Isaac and his people just kept moving on and digging another well, until the herdsmen of Gerar left them alone. These men exercised self-control and didn’t fight for their rights. Isaac and his servants set a good example for all of us of what to do if someone picks a fight with you. The best thing to do is to walk away and keep the peace.

The funky fox

Read Nehemiah 4.

Questions for discussion
  1. How do you feel when someone makes fun of something you are making?
  2. How do you feel when you start a big job that will take a long time to finish?
  3. Let’s say you were trying to build a big Lego® house or spaceship. If someone were making fun of you, saying what a lousy builder you were, how would you feel?
  4. Would you want to quit or would you keep trying?
  5. What did Nehemiah do when his enemies made fun of the wall he was building and said it would break if even a fox walked on it?
  6. When someone is angry with you, what is the easiest thing to do?
  7. What could have happened if Nehemiah had become angry and lost self-control when Sanballat mocked them?
Key concepts

When someone gets mad at us, the easiest thing to do is get mad, too. Nehemiah was rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem. His enemies were angry about this and mocked the efforts of Nehemiah and his men and also threatened them with a fight. Nehemiah didn’t get angry when they made fun of him, nor did he offer to fight.

If Nehemiah had fought back, there was a chance a war could have started. Nehemiah’s anger could have clouded his thinking and he may not have remembered to consult God for directions and protection. Instead, Nehemiah talked to God and asked Him to deal with the troublemakers. Talking to God helps us know what to do when we are tempted to get mad at someone. The best thing to do when we are tempted to fight or lose self-control is to pray!

Who needs to be self-controlled?

Read Titus 2:1-12As you read this passage, ask the kids to listen for the word “self-control.” Ask them to raise their hands when they hear it.

Questions for discussion
  1. Can you think of something you do that does not please God?
  2. Have you ever wanted something so much that you had a tantrum when you were told you couldn’t have it?
  3. What is self-control?
  4. Who needs to be self-controlled?
  5. Why do we need to be self-controlled?
  6. When are you most tempted to lose self-control?
Key concepts

Self-control is saying “no” to ungodliness (behaviour that does not please God) and worldly passions (allowing things to be so important to you that they contribute to sinful behaviour). The Bible indicates that everyone is to be self-controlled. When we choose to have the Holy Spirit live inside of us, God helps us to maintain self-control. Self-control is one of the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). Ask God to help you remember to ask for help when you are tempted to lose self-control.

Expressing anger hastily

Read Proverbs 29:20Ecclesiastes 7:9Proverbs 29:11 and Proverbs 14:17.

Questions for discussion
  1. Have you ever said or done anything and later you wished you hadn’t?
  2. What does the Bible say about doing or saying things without thinking first?
  3. What does it mean to speak in haste?
  4. When are you tempted to speak without thinking first?
  5. What does it mean to be provoked in your spirit?
  6. What does it mean to give full vent to your anger?
  7. How can you stop yourself from being foolish?
Key concepts

Most of us have said or done something foolish and later regretted it. As you read the Bible verses listed above, notice a word that is used in all of these verses; the word is fool.

Traditionally, the word fool was defined as “one without spiritual wisdom; wicked person” (Funk and Wagnalls Standard Dictionary). When we let the devil tempt us with losing self-control, this causes us to do things that are not righteous.

Normally we think of wickedness as something mean or bad that has been planned out ahead of time, but we can actually do wicked things when we say or do things without thinking. In fact, we can hurt people more by careless words and actions than if we planned to hurt them. Matthew 12:36 says that all of us will have to give an account to God for every careless word we speak. The good news is that God will help us with self-control when we ask Him. Take time to pray one of the kids talk with God prayers together.