Respecting the Rights of Others {Genesis 13}

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Everyone seems to be focused on their personal rights these days: the right to say what we want; the right to do what we want; the right to bear arms; the right to life; the right to have an education. According to the Bible, what are our rights? Helping our children understand the importance of respecting the rights of others is a step in the right direction on the narrow path of godliness. {Deuteronomy 5:32}

respecting the rights of others object lesson

Scripture Focus: Genesis 13

Materials: Collect two pairs of 3 types of items; have one of the pair be new and the other used, or worthless (I used socks, pencils, and cookies. One cookie had a bite taken out of it!)

Free Poster:  Click on the image below and print.

respecting the rights of othersObject Lesson on Respecting the Rights of Others:

{Have all of your items in a bag so the children cannot see them. Choose one child to help you. Be sure to choose a child who is a good sport, who has a personality that can handle silliness, and who is respectful.}

{To the child, say} There are some items in this bag that I want to share with you. {Pull out the two pencils.} I really like pencils. Some can be so neat with pretty colors! I want to share a pencil with you. {Aloud, go through the decision process for giving away the pencil.} Which pencil should I give you? I really like this one. It hasn’t been sharpened yet. It has a new eraser. This other pencil has been used and sharpened. it even has something sticky on it. There is no eraser. Hmm…I think I’ll keep the nice pencil. You can have the one that’s already sharpened. It’s a nice green color. {Give the child the used pencil.}

{Pull out the pairs of socks.} I have some socks to share! This pair is new and never has been worn. This pair is kind of grungy. {Smell the socks.} They are clean, but they look dirty. You know what? Both pairs of socks will keep feet warm and that’s the point for wearing socks, so you can have this old pair and I’ll keep the soft new pair. {Give the child the old socks.}

{By this time, the child (and probably any others!) will be disgusted with you for giving away the older items. Act as if you don’t understand and continue with the final item.}

{Pull out one whole cookie and one broken cookie (or with a bite taken out of it.)} Ooooo! I love cookies! I’ll share a cookie with you! Um…{Look at both cookies as if this is a difficult decision and then give the broken cookie to the child.} Here. You probably don’t like these cookies as much as I do, so you can have the broken one.

{The kids will probably be rowdy. Calm then down by asking these questions. Accept answers. Hopefully the children will recognize that even though sharing occurred, it was selfishly done. }

How come you are so upset?
What’s the big deal? I gave away a perfectly good pencil, some socks, and a cookie.

Interesting. Did I deserve to keep the nicer items? Did the other person deserve to have the nicer items? How do we make decisions figuring out “who gets what”?

Bible Lesson for Respecting the Rights of Others:

Abraham had a similar situation, although what needed to be shared was quite larger. Abraham and his family were following God and living as nomads in the land. Abraham was very rich, as was his nephew, Lot, who was traveling with him. The land was unable to supply the food and water that was needed for all of the animals and the herdsmen were fighting among themselves.

Abraham explained to Lot that he did not want strife between them. They were family. Therefore, Abraham showed the land to Lot. He told Lot that if he chose to go left, Abraham would go right; and vice versa. Lot looked at all of the land. One part was a plain that was lush and green, while the other way was more brown and rocky. Lot chose the better looking land. So he and his family went to live among the cities on the Jordan plain and Abraham went the other way and dwelt in Canaan.

Who chose the nicer looking land? [Lot] Yes. And eventually Lot had problems. Genesis 14 tells us that the king of the city of Sodom captured Lot and Abraham had to go and rescue him. Then in Genesis 19, the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were so evil that the Lord destroyed them; and Lot’s wife disobeyed God and ended up turning into a pillar of salt. Sometimes the nicest looking decision is not the best decision.

Life Application for Respecting the Rights of Others:

When given the decision to choose the land, couldn’t Abraham have said, “Lot, I’m in charge. I’m your uncle. I get to choose first“? [Yes] But he didn’t. Abraham had the right to choose first. Instead, he allowed Lot to choose first AND he allowed Lot to choose the better land. Abraham took the less desirable land, and eventually, he was rewarded for his selfless decision. Abraham put his rights aside and let someone else go first.

{Hold up and read the poster.}

Who is our neighbor? [Everyone.] How are we to treat other people? [Love them as we love ourselves.] Let’s figure out what that means.

We LOVE to love ourselves. We LOVE to treat ourselves first and take the best for ourselves. It’s an easy thing to do. That is called being selfish. Being selfish is sin. Who has sinned? [All have sinned. Romans 3:23] What do all sinners deserve? [Death. Romans 6:23] So if you are a sinner, and I am a sinner, and we all are sinners, and we deserve death, what rights do we really have? [The children might not know how to answer this question. The answer is none.]

People think they have certain rights. The dictionary says these rights are moral or legal entitlements to have or obtain something or to act in a certain way.

If there is anything good in us, then it comes from God. (Philippians 3:9) You know those birthday presents you like to receive? You don’t deserve them. You know that house you live in? You don’t deserve to live there. You know those parents and family members you have? You don’t deserve them. Everything you have comes from God and all of those presents, your home, and family members are wonderful blessings that God has chosen to give to you because He loves you. He gives them to you because he loves you, not because you deserve them.

But we think we deserve to have the best all the time.

To love our neighbors as ourselves means that we remember that we want what is best all the time. But instead of us keeping what is best, we give it away. And we don’t give away the best things because the other person deserves it, but because we are to love that person as Jesus loves us. Whether it’s a toy, or a pencil, or the best place in line, or a pair of socks, or an argument we want to win, loving our neighbor means choosing to be like Abraham, choosing to be like Jesus.

Jesus died on the cross while we were still sinners. We don’t deserve salvation. It is a gift. God gave his only son as a sacrifice for all of our selfish thoughts and actions. And because Jesus died, took all of our sins upon himself, and rose again, we can choose to have eternal life with God in heaven. Jesus put his rights aside so that we could choose a better option for living, instead of death.

Strength comes from placing your rights to the side and allowing someone else to choose the better option.

What can we learn from Abraham and Lot? If we want to be godly, then we must love others more than we love ourselves.

{Display the poster in the room throughout this series and read it each week.}

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Thoughts? Please share!