Take a tiny pinch of coffee grounds and spread them over the kitchen floor. Invite your children to join you in the kitchen and ask them to help you find the coffee grounds on the floor. “Hey guys, I dropped my coffee grounds. Can you help me find them?” It won’t be easy to find them all spread out. Then ask them to close their eyes and quickly dump a visual amount on the ground. This time ask them to pick up the coffee grounds… but one little grain at a time. Spend a few moments attempting to do this impossible task. You might want to lie down on your tummy and get serious, “One, two, three. Sarah, how many did you get? Four, five?” When they lament that it is impossible, take a broom and sweep up the coffee. Sit the kids down and talk about the kitchen floor representing the whole wide world – there are no separate regions or countries – just one big piece of land. Explain that the tiny grain of coffee represents sin in the world. What is sin? Sin is anything we do that goes against what God has planned for us. Sin is when we break God’s household rules. He isn’t mad at us when we sin, but it makes Him sad because He designed us to be loved, blessed, protected, and full of joy, and sin robs us of that. Help them see that God knows every grain of coffee, even those they couldn’t find or see with their eyes. Explain to them that there are many coffee grounds (sin) in the world right now for others to see. Every family will have a different grid regarding what your children know about the world’s affairs, but you can filter it through the coffee grounds analogy when they see, hear or feel things.
Example: You are driving and see vandalism, graffiti, or broken windows. Mom – “That is sad that someone broke that window.” Child – “Who broke it?” Mom – “I don’t know.” Child – “If you don’t know who broke it, how can the police arrest them?” Mom – “Remember the grains of coffee on the kitchen floor? Breaking things is a sin; even if he gets away with it and never gets caught by the police, God saw it, and God knows.”
Example: The kids see or hear something on the news and ask you about it. You can give them human wisdom and intellectual understanding or anchor them to the truth that God sees, knows, and is aware. A GREAT response is, “Wow, that is a great question. I have some thoughts, but let’s ask Jesus what He thinks.” I did this once about something I was so assured of the response, and He showed me something different, which created a powerful family discussion.
The God who sees, hears, and knows all has made Himself available to us through Jesus to come and talk to Him – ASK HIM! Jeremiah 33:3 – “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.”
Bitter Cup – We want to help our children understand that we ALL sin. Each of us has a grain of coffee (sin) with our name on it. Make some strong coffee and let your children take a sip. None of us are blameless before Him. Share something you did recently that was a sin. Ask them to remember something they did. Explain that sin is like strong coffee that tastes bitter. HERE IS THE KEY: While we ALL sin, God has given us provision for how to clean it up. How? By confessing (whoops – Jesus, I blew it) and by asking for HIS forgiveness (He took the spanking for us on the Cross). When we do that, He removes the grain of coffee with our name on it.
In the days ahead, when they violate your household rules, you can lovingly remind them of the bitter coffee and say, “Sweetheart, when you _____, it was a sin. Do you want to hold onto that bitter cup or come give it to Jesus?”
Cream & Sugar – He does not want us to pour some cream and sugar on the coffee (sin) to make it taste better. Sin is bitter, and He wants to remove it from us. Teach your children that when they sin and cover it up, keep it a secret, blame someone else or deny it; it is like pouring a pound of sugar in the coffee cup. You can do this as a visual for the children. Instead, He wants us to offer up the coffee cup to Him and hand it over, never to drink from it again.
Injustice of No Discipline – Organically speaking, sin does not feel good. When we fail to discipline our children, we rob them of a way out of their sins, which only teaches them to ignore the guilt. By addressing sin, even at a young age, we allow them to make it right and remove the guilt. Guilt that is piled up can lead to shame. God knows we have flesh and live in a fallen world and has not left us in condemnation. Confessing sin is an acknowledgment of wrongdoing and the opportunity to make it right with God and others.
Sin is bitter. Forgiveness is sweet. It’s time to brew some coffee!