Give the children papers and crayons/color pencils. Instruct them first to draw one or two of their good friends. Once they are done, invite 1 or 2 children up to explain why they have drawn that friend.
Then ask the children to draw an enemy of theirs. (Tip: younger children may not understand the term ‘enemy’ so use words like ‘someone who has hurt you or someone you don’t like to play with or be friends with.) Invite 1 or 2 children up to explain what they have drawn. (For this exercise you would want to pick those who have ‘embellished’ their drawings with colors of anger –black or red- or additional features like angry expressions.)
Say: Because sin is in the world, it is no longer perfect as God created it. There will be some people who hurt us or do bad things to us and the people we care about. This sounds like a problem!
As God’s people, let’s read the Bible to see what Jesus wants us to do.
Tip: Open your Bible and show the children where you are reading from. Say ‘we will be reading from the first book of the Bible - Genesis. We can learn about Jesus from the Bible’. If you have older kids, you can tell them a bit more about the book of Genesis.
Reading the Bible passage, adapted for young ones
As you tell the story, walk around the children as if you were travelling with Isaac.
Isaac had large flocks of sheep and herds of goats and cows. Isaac also grew good crops. He was a very rich man. Isaac was thankful to God for giving him all these things.
Some people were jealous of Isaac. They were mean and filled Isaac's wells with dirt so he could not have clean water for his family and animals to drink. [Wells were "holes dug deep in the ground that provide water.]
King Abimelech (uh BIM uh lek) told Isaac to go away. Isaac and his family moved to a new place to live. (Walk around the children and have them turn about 90 degrees to face you for the next part of the story.)
Isaac opened old wells so he could get water for his family and animals. He even dug a new well.
Then herdsmen in the area began to quarrel with Isaac's helpers. The herdsmen said the water was theirs, not Isaac's. Isaac dug another well (move a little bit further around the children), but the men still fought.
Isaac moved his family, helpers, and animals again. (Walk around the children and have them turn about 90 degrees to face you for the next part of the story.)
This time, when he built a well, no one argued with him.
One night, God appeared to Isaac. God told Isaac not to be afraid because God would take care of him.
Isaac was surprised when King Abimelech and his helpers came to see him. Remember that King Abimelech had told Isaac to go away? The men said they did not want to fight anymore. The men knew God was taking care of Isaac. The men wanted to be kind to Isaac.
Because Isaac trusted God to take care of him and his family, he was not angry with King Abimelech and forgave him.
Isaac prepared food for all the people to enjoy a meal together. The next day, King Abimelech and the men made a promise of peace with Isaac not to be mean.
(Genesis 26:12-23 ESV)
What do you think you would do if you were Isaac and all these people were being mean to you?
Isaac was a peacemaker.
In fact, the Bible commands us to be peacemakers! Hebrews 12:14 in the New Testament says: ‘Pursue peace with everyone, and holiness—without it no one will see the Lord.’ (HCSB)
Philippians 4:4-7 also says “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Isaac trusted that God will take care of all his needs and help him when people were being unkind to him. As God’s people, we have the Holy Spirit in us who gives us a peace in our hearts that nothing else can give.
That is why Jesus commands us to ‘But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,’ in Matthew 5:21.
Respond & Discussion
Do you think it is hard for you to love your enemies? Why?
What did you learn today that will help you live at peace with those around you?
Pray: Dear God, Forgive me for struggling to love those who hurt me. Please help me know and have the peace you give so that I can love others just like how you love them. In Jesus’ name, Amen.