PRETEEN LESSON ON THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT

Building character is a never-ending process.

As you know, true character is a result of a growing relationship with God. After all, He’s the one who really shapes and molds us. That is…if we allow Him to do so.

In fact, here’s a lesson for the preteens in your ministry about how God shapes and molds them. It’s all about how the Holy Spirit produces fruit in their lives.

Use it for an upcoming Sunday/midweek service, small group, or for Sunday School.

Enjoy!

– Nick Diliberto, Preteen Ministry 

Topic: The Fruit of the Spirit

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Bible: Galatians 5:16-17, Galatians 5:22-23

Bottom Line: The Holy Spirit works in us to change our words, thoughts, and actions.

What’s That to Me? Preteens will begin to understand how the Holy Spirit produces Fruit in us—and what that looks like in real life.

LESSON OVERVIEW

The Holy Spirit is a gift for all believers. He helps us by interceding for us, reminding us of the Truth, and sealing us with the promise of eternity. Another major role of the Holy Spirit is guiding us to spiritual maturity. We want to be more like Jesus, but how do we know if we’re moving in the right direction? The book of Galatians tells us that we can monitor our spiritual growth by the Fruit of the Spirit.

OPENING ACTIVITY: FRUIT-BASKET TURNOVER

 Supplies:

  • Chairs
  • Optional: cards with fruit names to help preteens recall fruit names

 What to Do: If possible, have the opening activity led be the same person each week of the series. Have this game host dress in ninja attire and speak like a Sensei. Have fun with the ninjas-in-training.

Say: You are halfway through your ninja training. I told you last week that the challenges would only get tougher from here. Today, we will test your ninja quickness and wits. Each of you will have the think quickly and move even quicker to be a true ninja. Do you think you have what it takes? We shall see!

What to Do: Have group sit in a circle of chairs. You should have one less chair than you do people, so that one preteen is left standing. Number people off, but instead of saying, “one, two, three…” say, “apple, banana, orange, kiwi, peach”—or whatever fruit comes to mind. The more people you have, the more groups you may want. The last person is “It” and stands in the center of the circle.

When the game begins, It yells out a fruit name. Everyone with that name must get up and exchange seats with someone else with that name. It tries to take one of the empty chairs before they are all taken. Whoever is left without a chair is now It.

At any point in the game, It can yell “Fruit-basket turnover!” and everyone must change seats. After a few rounds, you may also allow It to call more than one fruit at a time. This gets more people up and moving.

Say: Your ninja quickness is impressive. You must keep practicing so that you never fall behind in your ninja training. Next week will be your final challenge, and it will be the most difficult challenge yet.

Get ready, ninjas, because today you will learn a great lesson about becoming a Fruit Ninja!

TEACH: WHAT’S THE FRUIT?

Supplies:

  • Rope
  • Clothes line
  • Clothespins
  • Flesh Cards on 11X17 paper
  • Spirit Cards on 11X17 paper 

Welcome! We’re jumping into week three of our series, Fruit Ninja! Just like a ninja who trains to be like the Sensei, we’ve been talking about how we are called to grow more and more like Jesus. In week one of our series, we talked about how when we place our faith in Jesus, we are a new creation which means our whole identity changes.

Last week, we talked about God’s gift to us in the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is God living with us and in us. We saw a few of the ways that the Holy Spirit helps us. Remember that He intercedes for us, He reminds us of the Truth, and He seals us with His promise to be with us for eternity.

Today, we’re talking about how the Spirit changes us. The Holy Spirit helps us transform our thoughts and actions. But first, I need a few helpers to play a game.

(Select four to six preteens to play a game of Tug of War. Use rope or other long material for the Tug of War game. Mark the floor with tape at an equal distance from each team. The game is over once one team is pulled over that line.)

Say: How many of you have ever played the game Tug of War? To play the game, each side will hold one end of the rope. When I say, “Go,” each team will begin to pull and try to overpower the other side. The winner is the first to pull the other team past this line. Are you ready? On your mark, get set, go! 

(Play one to three rounds of Tug of War. Be sure to stop the game if it is getting out of control. Thank the volunteers for playing and have them return to their seats.)

Say: Tug of War is a fierce game. Each team is fighting and pulling to overpower the other team. One minute, this team is winning and doing great. Then, bam! The other team takes over and starts to win. It’s a back-and-forth battle. That’s why it’s called Tug of war!

We’ve been talking for a couple weeks about how we are given a new identity and called to be more like Jesus Christ. We want our words, thoughts, and actions to be like Jesus, but that is really hard. It’s kind of like this game of Tug of War. Open your Bibles to Galatians 5:16-17.

So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions.

(Read Galatians 5:16-17.)

Say: These verses clearly show us that there is a battle going on. As we learn more about Jesus, we want to be more like Him. Remember, the Holy Spirit reminds us of what Jesus taught us. We want to do those things and be more like Christ, but at the same time we are still making bad choices and messing up.

I can imagine this is a hard part of the ninja life. A ninja must follow the Sensei’s instructions at all times. There are probably times when the ninja wants to use his skills to impress others or get revenge against his enemy. But at the same time, the ninja knows what the Sensei has taught him and shown him. This is exactly that we go through in following Jesus!

On one side we have the Spirit, who is God living with us and in us. He is showing us what needs to change to be more like Jesus. On the other side, we have the flesh. This is the part of us that is sinful and selfish. It’s the part of us that has been forgiven, but it still trips us up.

Both sides are pulling back and forth, so how do we know who’s winning? How do we know that we’re actually growing and becoming more like Christ? The Bible says that we can track our growth by looking at the Fruit of the Spirit.

Ask:

  • Can anyone tell me what type of trees these are? (There’s an apple tree, orange tree, banana tree.)
  • How can you tell what type of tree it is? (We can tell the type of tree that it is by looking at the fruit that it produces.)

Say: The fruit is a quick and easy way for us to tell that the tree is healthy because it’s putting out fruit like it’s supposed to. And it helps us to identify the type of tree by just looking at what fruit is growing.

We can see the Holy Spirit working in us and changing us by the fruit that we produce. We’re not going to start sprouting apples and oranges out our armpits, but we will produce certain words, thoughts, and actions. We want those to be more like Christ, and the Holy Spirit works in us to produce that kind of fruit.

It’s a battle because we still want to do sinful things because we are sinful people. But the Spirit in us overpowers the flesh, and He helps us to become more like Jesus. So, what is the Fruit of the Spirit? What are the words, thoughts, and actions that show us we are growing more like Christ?

Let’s read Galatians 5:22-23 to find out.

But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!

(Have a preteen read Galatians 5:22-23.)

Say: So, the fruit of the Spirit is: love, joy, peace, patience (forbearance), kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. I want to encourage you to memorize this passage of Scripture over the next two weeks. It’s an important verse for all of us to remember as we grow in Christ. Today, we’re going to talk about love, joy, peace, and patience. We’ll save the other part for next week.

Let’s talk about these first four words and how we can see the Spirit producing this fruit in us.

What to Do: For this teaching section, hang a clothesline across the stage or focal wall. On the line, hang 11X17 sheets of paper with the following list of words. Create another set of 11X17 sheets that have the Fruit of the Spirit listed on them.

As you go through each card, explain how our flesh displays the words hanging from the line. Then explain how the Spirit works in us to produce Christ-like fruit. As you describe the Spirit’s work, hang the corresponding Fruit of the Spirit card over the flesh card. Emphasize the difference between the actions of the flesh and the actions of the Spirit in us.

Be clear that this is not a list of “Do’s and Don’ts.” Paul is listing some changes that occur in us by the work of the Spirit, but there are many other changes that come in our sanctification.

  1. Jealousy, Gossip, Hate – Love
  2. Worry, Sorrow, Sadness – Joy
  3. Anger, Fighting, Unhappy – Peace
  4. Impatient, Compulsive, Intolerant – Patience (forbearance)

LOVE

Say: The first card hanging here on the line says, “Jealousy, Gossip, and Hate.” What feelings do these words give you? (Pause for responses.) When you are put into a situation with a friend who has done something wrong to you, these are actually the natural reactions you might have. Because we are sinful, we react in a sinful way. We get jealous. We talk about others and spread gossip about them. We might even go so far as to really hate that person in our hearts.

(Cover the first card with the “Love” card.)

Say: So how does the Spirit produce a change in us? The Spirit helps us to love. Instead of reacting with jealousy, gossip, hatred, or any other sinful attitude, the Spirit helps us to respond with love.

In John 13:34-35, Jesus said to his disciples, “So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.’ ”

To be like Christ and to help others know that we are His disciples, we must respond to all situations with love. It means we put the needs of others before our own needs. If someone wrongs us, we must be willing to forgive and to love that person, even in his or her faults, just as God loved us. The fruit of love helps us know (and others to see) that we are being transformed to look more like Jesus.

JOY

Say: The second card on our string says, “Worry, Sorrow, and Sadness.” Do you ever feel these emotions? Sometimes life is stressful. There are times when school or home life is just overwhelming. There are times when all your friends seem to turn on you or abandon you. In those times, we tend to worry a lot and become upset about our situation.

When the disciples learned that Jesus was leaving them, they began to worry and get upset. In that moment, Jesus said to them, “Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.” Jesus wanted them to remember His promises and trust in Him. Even though things seemed to be going sour, they could still have joy in that situation.

(Cover the second card with the “Joy” card.)

Say: The Holy Spirit is with us and in us to remind us of God’s promises. In the worst times, we can still have joy because we remember who God is and all that He has done for us. Joy helps us to look past the struggles of today, and focus on the promises God has made to us.

PEACE 

Say: Has anyone ever gotten under your skin? Is there someone in your family or at your school who just makes you angry? We all face people who make us unhappy, angry, or want to fight! Our flesh tells us it’s ok to get angry and to fight with that person.

On the other hand, Jesus taught his disciples to turn the other cheek. He said, “Blessed are the peacemakers.” In John 16:33, Jesus said, I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”

(Cover the third card with the “Peace” card.)

Say: As we see how Christ loved others, the Spirit helps us to change our attitude and behavior to be more like Him. Instead of arguing and fighting, we can choose to forgive and make peace because we know that Jesus has overcome the world. When things are getting under our skin, we can go to God for help. Philippians 4:6-7 says, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” As the Spirit changes us and makes us more like Christ, we can respond to difficult situations with peace.

PATIENCE

Say: The last card on our string shows some sinful attitudes and actions that come from our flesh. It says, “Impatient, Compulsive, and Intolerant.” Sin makes each one of us selfish. It makes us want things that will make us feel good. When we don’t get what we want when we want it, we often become impatient. We can also become impatient with others. When others don’t do what we want them to do or just don’t do it fast enough, we become impatient and intolerant.

(Cover the fourth card with the “Patience” card.)

Say: James 1:19-20 says, “Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires.” Over and over, the Bible reminds us to be patient with others just as God is patient with us. Being like Christ means we must listen to others and respond to their needs with patience. Patience requires us to use all the other Fruit: love, peace, kindness, and self-control. Each of these traits works in us to show the love of Jesus to others and make us more like Him.

CONCLUSION  

Say: We will cover the rest of the Fruit of the Spirit next week, but hopefully you can already see the Tug of War that happens as the Holy Spirit changes us to be more like Christ. When we put our faith in Jesus, we are immediately forgiven of sin. But there is still a process of us learning to be more like Christ and changing our behaviors to be like Him. The Holy Spirit helps us to make those changes.

Just like these cards covered up the cards that represented our sinful flesh, the Holy Spirit works in us to replace our words, thoughts and actions with those that are Christ-like. This doesn’t happen overnight. As we grow and understand more, we are changed. We can see the effect of those changes when we see the fruit that we produce. Like an apple tree that produces apples, those who are in Christ will produce fruit that looks like Him.

The Bottom Line: Our Bottom Line for this week and next week is this: The Holy Spirit works in us to change our words, thoughts, and actions.

Say: We want to remember that the Holy Spirit is God living with us and in us. He is here reminding us of the things Jesus taught so that our words, thoughts, and actions will match those of Jesus. Like a ninja in training, we are growing to be more and more like Jesus.

Let’s pray and then head to small groups to talk more about how the Holy Spirit works in us to change our words, thoughts, and actions.

SMALL GROUPS: NINJA THEATER

Supplies:

  • None 

What to Do: Divide the small group into two teams. Explain that each team will have three minutes to create a skit that shows the Fruit of the Spirit in action. They may choose any of the four words we discussed today—love, joy, peace, or patience.

Remind them that the skit does not need to be very long, but it should be a situation that would require them to respond “in the flesh” or “by the Spirit.” For instance, the group could show how they would respond with love to a group of students that were gossiping and picking on a classmate. After each skit, discuss how the students would react to that same situation in real life and how the Holy Spirit could help them in those instances. Be sure to talk about the difference the Spirit makes in our words, thoughts, and actions.

If the small group is less than five preteens, keep the group together and do the activity all together. Afterward, lead preteens in discussing the following questions.

Discussion Questions:

  • How is becoming Christ-like similar to a game of Tug of War?
  • How are our words, thoughts, and actions like the fruit produced by a tree?
  • Why do you think the Bible gives us a description of the Fruit of the Spirit? How does this “list” help us grow?
  • How is “love” a Fruit of the Spirit? What are the opposite behaviors that change in us?
  • How is “joy” a Fruit of the Spirit? What are the opposite behaviors that change in us?
  • How is “peace” a Fruit of the Spirit? What are the opposite behaviors that change in us?
  • How is “patience” a Fruit of the Spirit? What are the opposite behaviors that change in us?
  • Do you think the characteristics in this list are the only changes to happen in us? What are some other words that describe our new attitudes and behaviors? (trustworthy, humble, servant-hearted, obedient)
  • Do you think we would be able to make any of these “changes” without the help of the Spirit?
  • In your own words, what do you think it means to “live by the Spirit?”

Close in prayer.

[End lesson]

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