Lessons in hypocrisy (or anti‐hypocrisy) come hard for kids due to their self‐centered world view. Let’s ask them to chin themselves to the bar of fairness with this lesson on hurts and hypocrisy‐‐in a way that they can remember in the future. This touching lesson teaches children about Humility, Looking Inward, and Forgiveness.
The Hypocrisy Basket & the Hurt Basket: A Children’s Lesson on Humility, Looking Inward, and Forgiveness
Scripture: Matthew 18:23‐35
Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. One servant was brought to him who owed him ten thousand dollars. And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made.
So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt.
But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred dollars, and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay what you owe.’ So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt.
When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place. Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’
And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt. So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.
• Alana and Tiffany printable
• Scissors to cut them out
• 2 baskets, the size of the collection basket
• Slips of paper, enough for each child to have several
• Pencils or pens or markers (for those too young to write)
Cut out the pictures of Tiffany and Alana. Put them aside.
(Click on the image above for a larger copy to print.)
Back in the times of Jesus, they had very harsh ways for settling debts. Selling people into jail, with their entire families?? We can be glad we don’t live in a system like that today.
But the lesson about not being a hypocrite still applies. What did the servant do that was so wrong?
He refused to forgive another guy for a little when he had been forgiven for a lot.
What would you do, if you had been forgiven for a huge debt and someone owed you a little bit?
Are you sure that’s what you would do?
Bring out Tiffany and Alana. Hold them up on the table in front of you. Shake Alana a little. As the story progresses, shake each girl a little as you speak of her for visual references.
The other day in school, Alana overheard Tiffany say, “Alana sure is turning into a wide load. Like, what does she eat at night lately? An entire bag of chips and, like, nine cupcakes?”
Alana is very conscious of her weight gain. Her pediatrician says it’s the onslaught of puberty, that big hips and thighs run in her family. She doesn’t eat any more than anyone else. To be supportive, Alana’s mom started jogging with her, and they jog a mile or two every day. It hasn’t helped that much.
How should Alana feel about what Tiffany said? It was thoughtless and horrible.
Should Alana forgive her? Maybe.
How can Alana possibly do that, when Tiffany’s voice keeps echoing through her head, along with the laughter that came from the girls who heard it?
Allow them to discuss. They may say things like Alana should confront Tiffany but in a nice way.
Here’s the thing I didn’t tell you: Last week, Alana made a joke about a kid in their class who has really thick glasses. That night she said, “I hate you!” to her mom for not taking her to the mall. This is the same Mom who is jogging with her because of their weight problems. And Alana said to the same girls Tiffany was just now talking to that she might not invite Tiffany to her sleepover party‐‐ because Tiffany gets too grumpy after midnight.
Why didn’t I tell you all this? Aren’t these girls acting like we all act sometimes? None of us have perfect bodies, and none of us have perfect mouths. They’re being “hypocritical.” That means they’re treating others in ways they would not want to be treated.
Alana overheard Tiffany on a Tuesday. The Sunday before, Alana was in church. She remembered the stuff she’d said to her mom and the stuff she said about Tiffany and the boy with the glasses. Alana felt really bad. She asked for God’s help. He forgave her. He “threw those sins as far as the east is from the west,” as it says in Psalm 103:12.
Now how do you think she should treat Tiffany? She should remember her own actions and try not to hold it against Tiffany.
When somebody does something awful or says something awful about us, we tend not to think in those terms. Whatever was said hits us like scalding water in the face, no matter what we’ve done wrong.
Think of someone who has really hurt your feelings. Without saying names, what got said? Or what happened?
Try to encourage them to think of things. They may slip out with the names but encourage them to focus on the actions and feelings and not on the person’s name.
Let’s practice “humility over hypocrisy.” It’s not easy. Let’s think of a time when we’ve done something similar. You don’t have to say it aloud. But think of a time when you teased someone. Think of a time when you gossiped. Think of a time when you blurted something thoughtless to a parent or a friend or someone you don’t like all that much. Let them think. Encourage them as this is a harder task.
Is God able to forgive you? Yes. Do you want him to? Yes.
Would it help to remember your own actions when you need to forgive somebody else? It’s easy to think about when it’s Alana and Tiffany. What about when it’s you? Why is it harder? You’re remembering your own hurt feelings as well as what happened. People don’t like to remember the things they did wrong, only the things other people do wrong.
The parable talks about people going to jail who don’t forgive debts, and all of that sounds very harsh. But our “hearts” can be “in jail.” Our hearts can be heavy. They can be “locked down” because of all the lack of forgiveness we’re storing in them. We can say, “we have a right to be mad….nobody knows how that hurt felt except for me.” And that’s true.
And it follows that no one will be hurt by your lack of forgiveness as much as you will.
If God forgave you for some pretty huge hypocrisy, how will he feel if you don’t forgive somebody who hurt you? He may decide you don’t deserve your forgiveness very much.
Forgiveness takes effort. It’s not always comfortable at first. It’s like diving into cold water. Or it’s like running when you feel like being a couch potato. Your anger and betrayal can keep creeping up on you. You may feel like you have to forgive a few times before that pain will leave you.
Pass around the “Hurt” basket. Using the slips of paper and pens or pencils, students should either write or draw an incident where someone really hurt them. When they are finished have everyone put that piece of paper in the hurt basket.
Do you want to stop feeling the hurt from what happened to you? Then here’s the harder part.
Pass around the “Hypocrisy” basket. Tell everyone to either write or draw on it something they had done that was hurtful and to whom. When they are finished have everyone put that piece of paper in the hypocrisy basket.
Do you want to be forgiven for this thing that you did? Do you want the chance to never feel guilty again? They should say yes.
Take all the pieces of paper in the hypocrisy basket and roll them into a giant ball. Toss it into the waste basket.
Jesus says your sins are forgiven, why? Because he loves you, just the way you are, imperfections and all, and because you asked to be forgiven. Do you want your forgiveness to stick?
Take up the hurt basket. Now, you have to forgive all these people.
Ball all the hurts up in a ball while speaking.
When Alana asked forgiveness for saying bad things—about the boy and to her mom and about Tiffany and the sleepover party—she felt the Lord saying something. He told her that her hatred of her body was making her hateful toward others. She is trying to love herself the way she is—the way God loves her. She’s trying to love Tiffany, because she’s got just as big a mouth sometimes.
And, well, we all can say raunchy things, so why be a hypocrite? She says thanks to her mom for the daily jogs, and she’s learned to compare her body to the kid’s eyes who wears the thick glasses. They have something in common—almost a bond.
Toss the ball into the waste basket.
Next time somebody gets ugly, let’s practice humility, looking inward, and forgiveness. Think we can do it? Yes!