A Kid-Word for Consequences

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Photo by Lukas on Pexels.com


We’ve explained the definition of sin to the kids. Now, we can go a step further and teach them that sin has consequences.

Thanks to Deb del Villar for writing this post and sharing her experience teaching preschoolers … and in doing so, finding a great definition for the consequences of sin.

What a difference a word can make! Recently this became abundantly clear as I served in our children’s summer program.

I was helping with the preschoolers. I wanted to emphasize the importance of obeying the rules. So, on the first day, while going over the three classroom behavior rules, I asked how many of them played sports. Almost all of the 14 preschoolers raised their hands. Next, I showed them a yellow and a red penalty flag that I had in my pocket.

They knew about penalties!

I spoke firmly and said they did not want me to take them out of my pocket because someone had disobeyed. They did not want a penalty. This is serious business. Their eyes got big and several exclaimed at once, “We do not want a penalty!” As our time progressed throughout the week, there were instances the yellow flag moved a little more out of my pocket, but for the most part, they obeyed because they did not want a penalty.

Without fail each day, one or more of them would point that out, “You didn’t have to take out the flag. We did it! We didn’t get a penalty.” The others would excitedly chime in, cheering and smiling widely.

Having worked with preschoolers most of my adult life, I was amazed at how they responded to the flags. Yet, even more astonishing was how quickly they comprehended the word, penalty. Obviously their coaches stressed that word along with the consequences to the team if they got one. These kids did not want a penalty! So much so, that they celebrated when they made it through the day without one.

That got me to thinking about how we explain salvation to children. Using words they understand is so important. So often we say “the wages of sin is death,” and kind of leave it at that, which is confusing to a child. But explaining that when we disobey God there is a penalty, they understand. So many kids play sports where they’ve been taught to obey if they don’t want the penalty flag.

What a great way to clarify the gospel.

Start with the definition of sin and continue by explaining that sin has a penalty.

This next part is also vital to our explanation. Unlike a game, everyone disobeys God and everyone receives the penalty. Review some of the sins that we talked about in the previous post that are prevalent in a child’s life. Then we need to explain that it’s not just kids who disobey, but adults too: parents, teachers, neighbors, and even the pastor. You could talk about a time you disobeyed – if it’s kid appropriate such as “I complained about the weather this morning because of our plans to go to the zoo. I wasn’t very thankful for the day God gave us, was I?”

A good verse to begin teaching is Romans 3:23: For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

 That’s our penalty – falling short of God’s glory (which we’ll talk about and illustrate in an upcoming post).



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