Use this Sunday school lesson with kids of all ages from the popular book Fruit of the Spirit.
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Pathway Point: God gives us the fruit of the Spirit to help us show others what his love looks like.
In-Focus Verse: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23).
The fruit of the Spirit is a gift God gives Christians to help them live lives that please him and show his love to those who don’t know God. As children learn about the fruit of the spirit, they will learn that God uses us as his instruments to show his love to others! Jesus was the ultimate expression of God’s love, and all the qualities of God that made Jesus who he was—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control—become qualities in us the closer we grow in our relationships with Jesus.
Younger children are still learning about who Jesus is and will discover in this journey what each fruit of the Spirit looks like. They will learn how to recognize qualities of the fruit of the spirit when they see them.
Older children will discover how to grow and nurture the fruit of the Spirit in their lives and realize the importance of each quality. All children will understand that the fruit of the Spirit is given to us as a tool, equipping us to show God’s love to those around us, fulfilling God’s commands.
Items to Pack: Bibles
Introduce the nine qualities of the fruit of the Spirit through this prayer. Have children form a circle, and have children number off, one through nine. Repeat the numbering if you have more than nine kids. It isn’t necessary for the numbers to come out even. Give each child a Bible, and have kids locate Galatians 5:22-23a. Explain that you’ll go around the circle and after you pause, the child who called out number one will say aloud the first quality (love) of the fruit of the Spirit. Continue around the circle, pausing for children to say the remaining eight qualities of the Spirit.
Say: Heavenly Father, thank you for giving us the fruit of the Spirit. We ask you to help us live each quality of the fruit of the Spirit. Help us to show [pause for child to say “love”]and [joy]. Help us to have [peace]and show [patience]and [goodness]. Help us demonstrate [faithfulness]and [gentleness], and finally help us have [self-control]. Please help us show others your love by teaching us your ways and growing us as your children. Please help us, Lord, to show love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control in the various situations you put us in. Help us to use the fruit of the Spirit to show others what your love looks like. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Tour Guide Tip
If you have younger children, they may have difficulty saying their prayer words during your pauses. You could modify the instructions by telling kids that you’ll say each fruit of the Spirit quality, and then have each child repeat his or her word after you say it. For example, when you say, “Help us to show love,” you’ll pause for the child who called out number one to repeat the word “love,” and so on with the remaining eight qualities.
1st Stop Discovery (15 minutes)
This activity demonstrates to kids how Christ’s character traits grow inside them as they grow closer in their relationships with God.
Items to Pack: two large sheets of butcher paper, markers, scissors, masking tape, construction paper fruit shapes, Bible
Spread out two large sheets of butcher paper, and choose a tall child to lie down, arms at his or her sides, on one of the sheets. Choose a smaller child to lie down, with arms extended overhead, on the other sheet of paper. Have the rest of the childs trace around the two children on the paper. Attach both tracings, side by side, to a wall. Explain that the smaller child’s outline represents each of us and the taller child’s outline represents Jesus.
Stand in front of the two body outlines and say: We’re going to spend some time learning about gifts from God called “fruit of the Spirit.” But first we need to understand what fruit of the Spirit is! What do you think of when you hear that term, “fruit of the Spirit”? Allow children to guess. Say: Those are all good answers! These gifts, called the fruit of the Spirit, are seeds God grows inside of us to show others what his love looks like. They are seeds of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. All are things Jesus modeled for us to show us what it looks like to show love, to have joy, to be patient, and so on. And the cool thing is, when we accept Jesus to become Lord of our lives, God plants those seeds and they begin to grow! Think about how each of those things shows up in your life. Are you patient when you have to wait your turn in line? Do you show love to people who may not be so easy to love sometimes? Let’s think of some ways that we show those gifts right now in our lives.
Before children arrive, cut out enough fruit shapes from construction paper for each child to have two. Write one gift of the fruit of the Spirit on each cutout, such as “love” or “kindness.” Set out markers for children to share. Have each child read which quality of the fruit of the Spirit is written on his or her cutout. Have older children assist younger children with reading. Encourage kids to write words or draw pictures of ways they show their assigned qualities to others. For example, if a child has “joy” written at the top of his or her cutout, the child could write or draw about encouraging someone who is sad by telling that person about Jesus, or by drawing that person jumping for joy or singing praise songs. When kids have finished, have them attach their completed cutouts to the smaller child’s outline.
Say: Wow! You all have so many awesome ways that you show others the fruit of God is growing in each of you! One way the fruit of the Spirit grows in our lives is when we see it growing in the lives of others—then we know what it’s supposed to look like and how we should behave. And when other people see those gifts growing in your lives, you’re showing them how God wants us to behave. God sent his Son, Jesus, to show us what our fruit should look like when it’s fully grown. When we read our Bibles, we can see the perfect example of what our fruit should look like and how we should live for God.
Encourage children to read the quality written at the top of their fruit cutouts. Have older children assist younger children with reading. Then have the kids write words or draw pictures that show how Jesus might have shown the assigned quality of the fruit of the Spirit. For example, if the quality listed is “love,” children could show Jesus hugging a child or could write about his death on the cross. When they’ve finished, have each child come up to the Jesus outline and attach his or her fruit cutout inside the outline.
Say: Those are all great things we can learn about the fruit of the Spirit by looking at Jesus! Remember, God sent Jesus to this earth to teach us how to live and to show us how to please God, right? So that means that the more we learn how to follow Jesus’ example—the more we get to know about him, the more we learn to love him, and the more we try to be like him—the more God’s love becomes part of us!
Open your Bible to Galatians 5:22-23a, and say: The apostle Paul tells us in Galatians, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control—these all describe God’s love. And as we’ve just learned, the closer we become with Jesus every day, the more God’s love becomes part of us. And God’s love shows itself in us through…what is it called? Allow children to respond. Say: The fruit of the Spirit! The fruit of the Spirit grows in us, just as fruit that we eat grows on trees!
Use a green marker to draw a rough outline of a treetop at the top of the smaller child’s outline. Turn the outline of the child into a tree, using the child’s body as the tree trunk and his or her outstretched arms as the branches. Then have each child carefully remove the fruit they’ve just placed on the Jesus outline and place it at the top of the “tree,” in the branches of the smaller child’s outline.
Say: The fruit of the Spirit grows in us. Say that with me! Lead children in repeating the phrase. Say: Now we can see by looking at our two outlines how those parts of Jesus—God’s love—become part of us the closer we become with him. But why? Why would God want us to have parts of Jesus inside of us? (Allow children to respond.) Those are all good answers, but the main reason is that God gives us the fruit of the Spirit to help us show others what his love looks like.
Be sure to walk around and give suggestions for ways Jesus modeled each quality of the fruit of the Spirit, especially for younger children who are still learning who Jesus is and what he did. Some examples include: love—his death on the cross, how he talked with sinners and loved them, how he loved children; joy—how he rejoiced in knowing God has good plans and there is a better place to come, how he encouraged others to be happy not sad; peace—how he spent time in prayer to experience God’s peace; patience—how he showed love even when people didn’t listen to his words; kindness—how he was kind to everyone, not just popular people; goodness—how he made right choices and helped and healed others; faithfulness—how he was a loyal friend, especially to his disciples; gentleness—how he was loving and gentle in his words and actions; and self-control—how even though people mocked him or tried to hurt him, he kept his cool, knowing God was in control.
Choose a child to read aloud John 15:4-5.
Have kids form pairs or trios to discuss the following questions:
- What do you think Jesus means when he says to “remain in me”?
- What kind of fruit do you think Jesus is talking about? Have you seen those kinds of fruit in your lives? When?
- Why can’t we grow the fruit by ourselves? Why do we want the fruit Jesus talks about?
Say: Our purpose here on earth is to love God and to show God’s love to others. God gives us the fruit of the Spirit to help us show others what his love looks like. The fruit of the Spirit is made up of various gifts that help us do a good job for our Father. Let’s find out what each gift does!
Story Excursion (20 minutes)
Recipe for Success
Items to Pack: nine large bowls with serving spoons, strawberries, orange slices, grapes, banana slices, diced pears, apple slices, starfruit slices, kiwi slices, maraschino cherries, nondairy whipped topping, paper and markers, paper bowls, chef’s hat, apron, plastic forks, CD player, CD of soft music, CD of chaotic-sounding music
Because of time constraints or space limitations, you may want to do a simplified version of this activity. Simply give each child a paper bowl, and instead of having kids travel to different stations, provide a large bowl of either mixed fruit or fruit-shaped candies or cereals. Use the dialogue as a rough outline, and have kids use their imaginations to pretend that they’re receiving the specific fruits you talk about. Give each child a spoonful of fruit or a piece of candy or cereal for each fruit of the Spirit quality in this activity. Be sure to lead children in the actions and to discuss the questions for each quality.
Before this session, set up nine stations, each in a different room or a different area of your classroom. Stations can be as simple as a folding chair set up in nine different areas. At each station, have a sign that indicates which fruit of the Spirit quality will be highlighted. For the corresponding stations, provide a bowl of the following fruit: love, strawberries; joy, orange slices; peace, grapes; patience, banana slices; kindness, diced pears; goodness, apple slices; faithfulness, starfruit slices; gentleness, kiwi slices; self-control, maraschino cherries and nondairy whipped topping.
Turn your back to the children as you place a chef’s hat on your head and put on an apron. Wheel around on your heel, sporting your best attempt at a French accent, and say: Bonjour, mes amies! That means, as you folks say, “Hello, friends!” My name es Chef Tellzeetruth, zee world famous cree-a-tor of what I like to call… “fruit of zee Spirit salad”! (Bow dramatically.) Today, each one of you has been chosen as a special guest to learn my secret rec-i-pay. Come! Let us learn zee recipe for success!
Hand out paper or plastic foam bowls and forks to the childs. Lead them to the station labeled “love.”
Say: Vehry well, now. Zis is zee very first an-gree-dee-ont in zee fruit of zee Spirit salad: Love. Ah, yes…zee love. (Stare off dreamily; then suddenly snap out of it.) Repeat after me: “Zee fruit of zee Spirit is love!” I use zee straw-berr-ees to represent love because zay are red, like a heart…or a big fat kiss! Find two people in zis room right now, and tell each person what you love about him or her! Allow children a minute or two to do this.
Ask: • What are zome of zee ways you show love to oth-eres?
Say: Tres bien, tres bien! Zat means “Very good! Very good!” Repeat after me: Zee fruit of zee Spirit is love! (Have children respond.) Now each of you put one straw-berr-ee in your bowl, and we will go get our next an-gree-dee-ont. Find a partner to hug as you walk!
Lead children to the station labeled “joy.”
Say: Oh, what a happy little fruit we have here! Our next an-gree-dee-ont in zee fruit of zee Spirit salad is joy. Let’s review zee an-gree-dee-onts in our salad so far. Zee fruit of zee Spirit is…what was at our last station? Love! And now we have…joy! Repeat after me: Zee fruit of zee Spirit is love and joy. (Have children respond.) Tres bien, tres bien!
Now to represent joy in our salad, I like to use zee or-onge slice-es. Do you know why? (Allow children to guess.) It’s because zee or-onge slice-es look like little smiles when you put them in your mouths, like zis! (Place an orange slice in your mouth to look like an orange smile.) Now you try! Put an or-onge slice in your mouth, and find three people to smile at! (Allow children a minute to do this.) Bon! Now let’s put them back in our bowls. Joy is all about smiles and the happiness zat only God can give.
Ask: • What are some ways you can share God’s joy with others?
Say: Tres bien! Tres bien! Now repeat once more with me: Zee fruit of zee Spirit is what? (Lead children in responding, “love and joy.”) Good! Now make sure you have an or-onge slice in your bowl, and let’s move on! Think of a happy word to cheer us as we travel!
Lead cheering children to the station labeled “peace.”
Say: Are you ready for zee next an-gree-dee-ont? It is peace! So now what an-gree-dee-onts do we have in zee fruit of zee Spirit salad? (Lead children in saying, “Zee fruit of zee Spirit is love, joy, and peace!”) Very good! And to represent zee peace in our salad, I choose zee grape. I choose it because many of you have probably heard zee term “world peace,” yes? And zee grape is round like zee world, so it will help you remember zis fruit of zee Spirit salad an-gree-dee-ont. Find someone to give a grape to and say, “Peace, man!” Allow children to serve one another grapes.
Say: However, when people talk about world peace, zay usually are talking about people not fighting around the world. No wars. Zee peace God gives is diff-er-ont! It is a peace that helps us stop fighting with ourselves and with others—zee battles that happen in our hearts and in our heads. Think about zay time you’ve been afraid of something. Turn to a partner and zhare your stories.
Allow children time to share with one another. Then continue.
Say: God doesn’t want us to worry about anything. He wants us to talk to him about our fears, about our problems, about everything. God will take care of our battles for us so that we can have his perfect peace. So…a-noth-ere fruit of zee Spirit is peace. Instruct children to freeze and remain still for a minute as you play some soft music. You may want to turn off the lights or instruct children to close their eyes. Explain that this is what peace feels like inside.
Ask: • When have you felt God’s peace inside?
Say: Let’s review our an-gree-dee-onts once more. Repeat after me: Zee fruit of zee Spirit is love, joy, and peace. (Allow children to respond.) Tres bien! Tres bien! Now I’ll reveal zee next secret an-gree-dee-ont! Everyone walk quietly and in peace over here.
Lead kids quietly to the station labeled “patience.”
Say: Tah-dah! Zee next part of our fruit of zee Spirit salad! I bet you are all getting hungry aren’t you? That’s why we add zee next fruit: patience.
Now we could eat our salad as it is…a strawberry, an orange, maybe even zee grape. But…if we waited until we have all of zee proper an-gree-dee-onts…ooh la la! We need to add zis patience. Have kids form a line and wait their turns to get their pieces of fruit.
Say: I choose zee banana to represent zee patience because how many of you have ever had your parents bring home bananas from zee gro-cer-ee store that were bright, bright green? (Allow children to respond.) Ah ha, yes, I see! And do green bananas taste very good? Not really. So what did you have to do? (Allow children to respond.) Zat’s right! You had to wait for zee bananas to ripen. And zen, zee bananas turn wonderful! You all had to wait your turn to get your fruit, and now…wonderful! Tres bien! Tres bien! So repeat after me: Zee fruit of zee Spirit is love, joy, peace, and patience. (Allow children to respond.) Very good.
Ask: • When have you had to be patient about something that turned out mag-nee-fee-cant but took a long time?
Say: God gives us patience to help us know that he always has what is best planned for us—it just might take a little bit of time before we get it. And we know that God is patient with us! Even when we goof up and disobey God, God waits for us to make the right choices and follow him again. God loves us even when we’re not showing love to him. So patience is another part of the fruit of zee Spirit.
What are zee other an-gree-dee-onts to our fruit of zee Spirit salad? (Lead kids in responding, “Love, joy, peace, and patience.”) Bon! That means “good!” Now let’s move on.
Lead children to the station labeled “kindness.” Say: Our next an-gree-dee-ont es zee kindness! Zat is correct. I choose zee pear to represent kindness because I have a pear tree in my back yard in Paris. Oui, oui! Zat pear tree, every year, without fail, she gives and gives and gives, so many delicious pears to help me cook zee grand masterpieces zat make me zee world-famous Chef Tellzeetruth. And when I think of kindness, I think of God’s kindness—how he gives and helps me and always wants zee best for me every single day. Find a person beside you to show kindness to right now by carrying his or her bowl to the next station.
So now what are our an-gree-dee-onts to our fruit of zee Spirit salad? Zee fruit of zee Spirit is [have kids fill in “love, joy, peace, patience, and kindness”]. Tres bien! Tres bien!
Ask: • How has God shown kindness to you?
Allow children to respond.
Say: Wonderful! Wonderful! Put a scoop of pears in your friend’s bowl to show kindness to your friend and to remember God’s kindness to us. But before we go, remind me of zee fruit of zee Spirit once more! Lead kids in saying, “Zee fruit of zee Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, and kindness.”
Lead children to the next station, labeled “goodness.”
Say: Our fruit of zee Spirit salads are almost zere! Our next an-gree-dee-ont es zee goodness. As in, “Oh, my goodness, what a salad!” I choose zee app-le to represent zee goodness because…well…it is just so good! And zat is what God wants our lives to be filled with—goodness. So, tell me zee an-gree-dee-onts all together! Zee fruit of zee Spirit is [lead children in filling in “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, and goodness”]. Put a good apple slice in your friend’s bowl, and then give the bowl back to him or her.
Ask: • How has God been good to you? How can you show God’s goodness to others?
Say: C’est magnifique! It’s magnificent! One more time! Zee fruit of zee Spirit is [lead children in filling in “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, and goodness”]. On we go!
Lead children to the next station labeled “faithfulness.”
Say: Welcome, mes amies, to zee an-gree-dee-ont zat no one else knows about in my salads. Look at zee fruit! It is zee starfruit! And do you know why? Because many, many years before Jesus was born, God promised through his prophets to send his Son, the Messiah. And one day, he did! Zere was a bright and mag-nee-fee-cant star in zee sky, and it led zee wise men to find baby Jesus. Zat star—it reminds us of God’s faithfulness. And faithfulness is our next an-gree-dee-ont.
Faithfulness means zat God is true to his promises. It means he is loyal and is always with us. It means we can trust zat every word in zee Bible is true.
Ask: • When have you seen God be faithful to you or your family? How can you be faithful to someone?
Say: Before we leave—quick! What is zee fruit of zee Spirit? (Lead children in responding, “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, and faithfulness.”)
Good! Now place a star in your bowl, just as God placed zee star in zee sky over Bethlehem. Stir up your salads, my friends, and let us away to zee next station. Link arms with a partner to walk to our next station, so you can remember how God sticks with us because he’s faithful, and how we should stick to our friends.
Lead children to the station labeled, “gentleness.”
Say: Gentleness is zee next an-gree-dee-ont. I choose zee kiwi fruit to represent zee gentleness. And do you know why? It is because—well, look at zis thing! (Hold up an uncut kiwi fruit.) It is uggg—ly! Zis fruit looks like Mr. Toughguy on zee outside, doesn’t he? But look inside, my friends. (Slice the kiwi open.) He is just a big Mr. Mushball on zee insides! Don’t get me wrong—I wouldn’t want to mess with him! All that tough skin and spiky hair—I am afraid of zee kiwi fruit! But I know zat he is soft and sweet on zee inside—and zat is why I also love zee kiwi fruit.
God is gentle—just like zee kiwi. We should respect God—because we know he is more powerful and tougher than anything! But we should also love God, because we know God is love and wants to bless us. Let’s discover zee diff-er-ohnce right now by turning to a partner and saying in a gentle voice, “Please be nice to mes amies.” That means, “Please be nice to my friends.” (Allow children to respond.) Bon. Now turn to your partner and say, “Please be nice to mes amies!” in a not gentle voice. (Allow children to respond.) Which way of speaking do you think is better? Which would you be more willing to listen to if someone said it to you?
So our new an-gree-dee-ont is zee gentleness. Say it with me now: Zee fruit of zee Spirit is [lead children in filling in “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and gentleness”].
Ask: • When have you seen God’s gentleness in your life? How could you show it to someone else?
Say: Bon! Now place zee gentle kiwi fruit in zee salad, and let us move on to zee grand finale in our masterpieces!
Lead children to the station labeled “self-control.”
Say: Voila! Zee grand finale in our fruit of zee Spirit salads! It is zee self-control. Say it with me, friends—self-control. And do you know why zee last an-gree-dee-ont es zee self-control? It is because it is my favorite! Zee whipped cream and zee cherry on top! We must have self-control with zis an-gree-dee-ont or we get zee big belly! Zen I must get zee new apron. Whisper: One size does not fit all.
Say: Anyhoo—zis is it: self-control. God wants us to have self-control so that we behave as Christ and make choices about our words and actions that are pleasing to God. What would happen if we did not have zee self-control? What would our world look like? Instruct children to set down their bowls and move away from the food. Play some music that sounds chaotic or very fast, and have kids move wildly for ten seconds to express what no self-control looks like. When you turn off the music, have kids freeze and wait for you to ask the discussion questions.
Say: Wow! How crazy would that be to have zee people running around everywhere, only worrying about zemselves instead of oth-eres?
Ask: • Why do we need to have self-control in our lives?
- When have you had to have self-control with something?
Say: Very good! Now take a look at your salads. Add zee final an-gree-dee-onts.
Tell me now, what is zee fruit of zee Spirit? (Lead children in shouting, “Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control!”) Remember to have self-control as you enjoy zee fruit of zee Spirit salad! Bon appe-teet!