We tend to think of Christianity as non-competitive. In most ways it isn’t competitive. Believe it or not though, there are several Bible stories that involve some sort of competition.
There is a lot your kids can learn from any of these Bible stories, but you can choose which one you think they need the most.
So, let’s get started.
Materials: Bible, games or an area for a race
Procedure: Choose one of the following Bible stories and its application principles to teach your kids.
- Elijah and Mt. Carmel. I Kings 18. Elijah was in a contest with the priests of Baal and Asherah to prove whose God was strongest. It would have been easy for Elijah to ask God to just light the fire on the altar. Elijah knew God was the only true God. So he made it seem even more impossible than the priests of Baal and Asherah had just proven it was for their gods. He had the wood, the altar and the bull on the altar absolutely saturated with water. No fire on earth could light that soggy sacrifice. But God can do anything. His fire consumed everything – even the stones and the water that had collected in a trench around the altar. We often try to make things like popularity or money more important than God. We think they will have the power to make our lives better. Only God can transform our lives, because He is the only true God.
- Daniel and friends and the Babylonian diet. Daniel 1. We don’t ever talk about this story as a contest, but it was. Daniel and his friends had been taken captive by the Babylonians. They were set aside to be special servants to the king after a period of being taught the Babylonian culture. A part of that was beginning to eat the Babylonian diet. The Bible doesn’t give us a whole lot of specifics, but it is implied there were things in that diet, God didn’t want them to eat – probably unclean animals and large amounts of alcohol. Daniel proposed a contest. They would eat only vegetables and drink only water for ten days. At the end of that time, the Babylonians could compare their health and appearance to that of those who were eating the Babylonian foods. Of course, at the end of the ten days, Daniel and his friends looked healthier and better nourished than the other young men. Sometimes, God asks us to do things that go against what is the popular cultural “wisdom” of our time. God is wiser than any person who will ever live. If we are wise, we will always choose God’s ways over those of people.
- James, John and their Mom. Matthew 20:20-28. Although they had already been chosen as the special Apostles of Jesus, it evidently wasn’t quite enough for their mother. She came to Jesus to see if there were a way for her sons to beat out the other Apostles for a future honor of sitting at the right and lefts hand of Jesus – positions of the highest honor near a king. After Jesus told her those were not his positions to give, he taught the Apostles about competing for power. Jesus told them his Kingdom was about serving, not competing for power. We are to have the same attitude. We should be more focused on serving others than in trying to gain some sort of power in the church.
After you have shared the bible story you chose and its application principle with your kids, read them Hebrews 12:1, 2 Timothy 4:7 and other verses that talk about the Christian life as a race. Ask your kids why they think the Bible compares our Christian life to a race – even though we aren’t competing with each other in the normal way.
After you have finished, have your own family contests. Play board games or set up an obstacle course race in the yard. Make it silly and fun. The point of today’s lesson is that everyone on God’s team will always win in the end!