Today the children are looking at the word goodness. The fruit: a banana, of course! Bananas are full of goodness, aren't they?
I'm not leading Sunday School today. A kind friend offered to lead it for me, to give Steve and me time to rest and recover. But let me tell you what I learned about "goodness" as I prepared the lesson, and how I would have taught it.
It took some work to look up all the "goods" and "goodnesses" in the concordance! The Bible word "good" has a huge range of meanings, from "pleasant" to "righteous," as it does in English. Like all the fruit of the Spirit, this quality springs from God, who is "good" and the giver of "good" things to his people.
Those who are "good" imitate God in two ways:
- they are morally upright, doing what is right, fair and just;
- they do good to others, treating them with loving kindess, mercy and generosity.
The children will hear the story of one of the "good" kings of Israel, who did "what was good and right and faithful before the LORD" and "walked in the ways of his father David" (2 Chron. 31:20, 34:2). The story of Josiah, who became king when he was only 8 years old.
Do you remember how, as a teenager, Josiah began to seek God? How he ordered the ruthless destruction of idols and false priests (no pretty Sunday School story this!) and scattered their ground remains over the graves of their worshippers? How he repaired the temple, and restored the worship of the one true God?
Do you remember the glorious and terrible day the scroll of God's Law was discovered lying dusty and neglected in the temple? How Josiah tore his robes and mourned because of God's anger which was coming on his people because they had not followed God's Word?
Do you remember how Josiah read the Book of the Covenant loudly to all the people, and how they repented and pledged themselves to obey God's commands? How they celebrated the forgotten Passover once again?
I think I would have chosen an 8-year old boy from our class, put a paper crown on his head (although Josiah was much older when the law was found) and asked him to read the 10 commandments as Josiah would have to the Israelites.
Not to return the children to law-keeping! But to remind them of the goodness God demands from his people, even after our law-breaking has been paid for by Jesus' death.
The children will talk about how God's Word shows us what is "good": to love others, obey parents and teachers, and refuse to lie, cheat or steal, even when their friends act differently. They'll listen to the Colin Buchanan song "Do not lie, do not steal, do not deceive one another" (Lev. 19:11).
The craft will be a pendant or bag tag, perhaps made from bakeable clay, to hang aroung their necks or on their school bags. To remind them to stay true to God, even when it's hard because it sets them apart from friends and classmates.
I'll leave you with the Bible verse the kids may learn today:
He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8