Focus Passage: I Timothy 1: 12-17
Memory Verse: “Jesus came into the world to save sinners, and I’m the biggest sinner.”
Items for Preparation:
- Zip. Nada. You’re welcome.
Background: Read the adult lesson in the print edition of Nurturing Faith journal and additional material online. We’re gonna talk about sin here today. We’re against it. But it is a really hard concept for children to understand. They generally get when they’ve made somebody mad, or when they’ve gotten their clean clothes dirty, or haven’t shared properly, or have told a fib. But these are not exactly in the category of world class sins. So since kids are generally pretty innocent, their sense of sinfulness is limited. We’ve got to pull out the stops to get over Paul’s idea that he’s the baddest guy in the whole dang town.
We can’t teach about the idea of saving today, tempting though it is. Sorry. Too much theology for one children’s sermon. Don’t worry; more Sundays are coming later.
Say: One of the very greatest Jesus-followers in the history of the world was the person who wrote many of the books we have in the New Testament. Most of them were long letters. We’re reading one of those letters, the one he wrote to his friend Timothy. Tim was in the town of Ephesus to help preach and minister in a church there. The letter is in our Bibles called “1st Timothy.” Do you know who that greatest Jesus-follower is? [Allow for answers. Help ‘em out to name Paul.]
Say: But in this letter to Timothy, the preacher in that church in Ephesus, Paul doesn’t say he’s the greatest Jesus-follower! No way. He says something exactly opposite! Paul says that he is the biggest sinner in the world.
Say: So, what is a “sin?” [Allow for answers.] That’s right – a sin is doing something we know we must not do. A good way to know what it is: whenever you use your power, your strength, or your tools, in order to do harm to somebody. All of us do little things most days that we can call sins. I know I do. [Now lean in and whisper in a sheepish way:] It’s one of the things about me I do not like!
Say: Now let’s think: you stand up if you think these things I’m describing are sins. Stay put if you don’t think they are sins, if you think they are just not very good things to do.
Is it a sin to forget to do something like make up your bed? [Allow answers.] Okay, how about promising to make up your bed and then not doing it on purpose? Yep. That’s a sin.
Is it a sin to eat more brownies than you should? [Allow answers.] How about to eat your brother’s brownie while he’s not looking then say you don’t know anything about his brownie? Well, yeah. That’s sinful.
Alright, one more: Is it a sin to play too hard to win a game, and beat somebody else? [Allow answers.] Well, how about to cheat at the game so the other team loses? Yeah, that’s pretty bad.
Say: A sin is when I use my power, my strength, or my tools to cause harm to somebody. And the greatest Jesus-follower, Paul, said that he was the biggest sinner. Paul knew how terrible it feels when you know you have harmed somebody. It feels awful – I know. Have you ever felt that awfulness? Yuk! It feels very bad. Paul must have felt terrible.
Say: What do we do when we feel terrible, when we are sad and low, knowing we have sinned? What can we do? [Allow for answers.]
Say: Paul knew. He wrote it in his letter to Timothy. We will read it next week. But this week, pay attention to what you do and say, and try not to let a sin come from you. Try your best. Say a prayer every day that God will help you.
Prayer: Say these words after I say them.
O loving God,
Thank you for your servant Paul,
Who was a great Jesus-follower.
Thank you for his letter
Teaching us to follow too,
In Jesus’ name, Amen.