Use this children’s Sunday School lesson to teach kids to forgive others.
Needed: Bibles, Bible trivia questions, Forgiveness vs. Judgment cards
Intro Game: Forgiven Much
In this game show, you’ll divide your students into two teams. The first student from each team comes forward to answer a question. You’ll read the question, and listen for both of their answers. They can each answer one time.
The first student to get the correct answer incurs no negative points for their team. If one or both of the students answer incorrectly, or if one student answered correctly but not fast enough to answer first, they roll a die. The number on the die represents how many sins the team has against them. Write the number on the board.
The first student to answer correctly can then roll a die to see how many sins their team is forgiven of. Deduct this number of points from their total on the board.
If either of the students answered incorrectly, they can also roll a die and deduct that number of sins from their total.
Play until every student has had a chance to answer and roll. The team with the lowest number of sins on the board wins.
Ask students, If someone does something wrong to you, and then says they’re sorry, should you forgive them? (Yes.)
If they do something wrong to you again, and then they say they’re sorry again, should you forgive them again? (Yes.)
How many times should you forgive a person when they do wrong things to you?
(Read Matthew 18:21.)
“Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, ‘Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?’”
How many times does Peter think he should forgive his brother? (Seven times.)
What do you think Jesus will say? Do you think Jesus will say that seven times is enough?
(Read Matthew 18:22.)
“Jesus answered, ‘I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.’”
How many times does Jesus say Peter should forgive his brother? (Seventy-seven times, or seven times seven times.)
Jesus said that Peter should forgive his brother a lot.
Jesus wasn’t saying that we have to stop forgiving people after seven-seven times. He was saying that we have to forgive people a lot.
(Read Matthew 18:23-25.)
“Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold was brought to him. Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.”
Why was the king going to throw the servant in jail? (Because the servant owed the king money but couldn’t pay it.)
(Read Matthew 18:26-27.)
“At this the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.”
The servant begged the king not to send him to jail and what did the king do? (He forgave the servant and said that the servant didn’t have to pay him the money he owed.)
Do you think it was nice for the king to forgive the servant and not make him pay the money he owed? (Yes.)
(Read Matthew 18:28-29.)
“But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded.
“His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’”
Now, the servant wants another servant to pay him the money that they owe him. But the other servant can’t pay the money and is begging the servant not to throw him in jail. What do you think the servant should do?
Should he forgive the other servant or should he send him to jail? (He should forgive the other servant and not send him to jail since the king forgave him and didn’t make him go to jail.)
(Read Matthew 18:30.)
“But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt.”
The servant wasn’t very nice, was he? He didn’t forgive the other servant, even though the king had forgiven him.
(Read Matthew 18:31-34.)
“When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened.
“Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.”
What did the king do to the servant? (The king yelled at the servant and put him in jail.)
Why did the king do that? (Because the servant was mean and wouldn’t forgive the other servant even though the king had forgiven him.)
(Read Matthew 18:35.)
“This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”
Jesus says that God will punish us if we don’t forgive other people. In the story, God was like the king, and we’re like the servant. God forgives us when we do wrong things, so He wants us to forgive other people when they do wrong things. God wants everyone to forgive everyone.
So remember, when someone does something wrong to you, God wants you to forgive them because God forgives you when you do wrong things.
Activity: Acting it Out
Divide students into groups of two or three. Have each group decide on and act out a scene in which someone does something wrong to another person, but the person they wronged forgives them instead of trying to get back at them or get them in trouble.
Game: Forgiveness vs. Judgment
Print out or write the words Forgiveness or Judgment on a set of index cards. You should have an equal number of cards that say Faith as Fear.
Divide students into two teams, and have the teams line up on separate sides of the room in single file lines. Mix up the cards and give each student a card that says Forgiveness or Judgment. Set a timer for 3-5 minutes, depending on how many students you have. When you say, “Go!” the first two students run toward each and show each other their cards.
If one says Forgiveness and the other says Judgment, the student with Forgiveness scores a point for their team. The person with Judgment does not score. If both say Forgiveness, both score a point, and if both say Judgment, neither does. Both return to the back of their lines and trade their cards for a new card.
As soon as they leave the center, the second two players run up and do the same thing. Play continues until the timer runs out. The team with the most points at the end wins.
Father God, we thank You for forgiving all of our sins. We pray that You’ll help us to forgive other people when they sin against us. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.
You can also find this lesson for Kindle or in print in my book, The Parables and Teachings of Jesus Vol. 2.