Serve the children banana or apple slices and then leave some out on the counter for a few hours. Gather the children in the family room and have them bring their journals and Bible. Ask them to read to themselves Galatians 5:22-23 outlining the fruit of the Spirit. See if they can remember the fruit listed (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control). Talk about each one and give an example of kindness, self-control, joy, etc. Share what kindness looks like at the dinner table. What does joy look like when Mom says no? Ask them if they enjoyed the banana or apple you served earlier. Wasn’t it delicious and tasty? Bring out the plate of food you set out hours earlier and attempt to give them a bite. A wilted mushy brown banana. YUM… NOT! Talk about the opposite of love, joy, peace, etc. Help them to see specific examples of peace vs. chaos, love vs. rejection, etc. We do not just ‘obey’ to behave like the fruit of the Spirit. We are helping them understand that choosing not to is partnering with the enemy to bring his kingdom into our homes, relationships, and cities. We choose to partner with God and His Kingdom because we believe in Him and want the fruit of His Kingdom for ourselves and those around us. There is a real war in the spirit realm to bring about chaos, isolation, hurt, lawlessness, and offense. How do we counter this? By going after the FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT.
NOT IN MY HOME – Explain to your children that there is a real rebellion in the world today against being kind and loving to others and that while it may be what ‘everyone else is doing,’ our home honors and obeys the Lord. Ask each child to draw a picture of each of the fruits of the Spirit. When all of them are illustrated, put them on the side of the room and have them sit in a circle. Ask them if they WANT a house of love or rejection. If they say love, pick one person to get the ‘love fruit’ and carry it back to the family circle, placing it in the middle. After each fruit has been brought to the center of the family, tell them they can either bring LOVE to the family circle or throw it out.
In the days ahead, I would be extra aware of the hours and days ahead to call out and make a big deal when you see someone displaying the fruit of the Spirit. “Johnny, that was SO loving,” “Susie, that was so kind of you to _____.” “Sarah, look at the self-control you had in that store.” You are empowering them that their choices make a difference, and they are significant contributors to the Kingdom of God. When you see your child choosing the opposite fruit, ask if they remember the banana slices. Ask them, “Which fruit do you think you are partnering with right now?” After kids have a grid for this, all you have to say is, “I am not sure that is a very tasty fruit,” which helps them see how they can choose different fruit.
ON A MISSION – I encourage you to gather the children, remind them of this lesson, and pick ONE of the fruits together. Let’s say you choose KINDNESS. Come up with a list of ways you can show kindness to others as a family. Maybe it is buying someone coffee, bringing a warm meal to a homeless person, babysitting to give the parents a date, sending notes to friends, or dropping off a balloon at someone’s door. Go on a MISSION to release that fruit. This will help build your child’s muscles in the joy of His ways. Often before we walk into a store, I will pick one and say, “Okay, let’s all be on the lookout for ways we can practice SELF-CONTROL in this store.” or “When you go to Ms. Johnson’s house, I want you to all look for ways you can be LOVING,” and then we talk about it afterward.
When I stand before Him, I want to be able to say, “Lord, I cared about the fruit of Your Spirit and did my best to teach my children to know, understand, partner with, and display the fruit of Your Spirit.” TAKE BACK GROUND BY GRABBING AHOLD OF HIS FRUIT!