As a family, we are studying a character trait each week, and are beginning with the Fruits of the Spirit. We are just getting started, so up until now, we have talked about Love, Joyfulness, Peaceable, and Patience. If you want more information on the nuts and bolts of what we are doing, you can read how to get started on this post.
This week's character quality is KINDNESS. Kindness is more than just "not being mean", it is actively doing good towards others, and that is the point that I think is most important for children. Kindness is not convenient or accidental. Kindness goes out of its way to show someone love.
KINDNESS vs. meanness
Showing love and doing good towards others.
Romans 12:10 - "Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another."
This Week's Bible Story: 2 Samuel 9:1-13
I chose the story of David showing kindness to Mephibosheth because David goes out of his way to show him kindness when most men would not have done it. 2 Samuel 9:1 reads, "Then David said, “Is there yet anyone left of the house of Saul, that I may show him kindness for Jonathan’s sake?”
The amount of back story you need to cover will depend upon how familiar your children are with the time of King David. Even if they remember, it would be helpful to briefly review the friendship of David and Jonathan (2 Samuel 18:1-3) and how Mephibosheth was injured (2 Samuel 4:4).
At the very beginning of David's reign, he asked if there were any left of the house of Saul to whom he could show kindness. King Saul and all of his sons had been killed at the same time during a terrible battle with the Philistines (1 Samuel 31:6). It is remarkable to me, that David asked if there were any left of the house of Saul because King Saul had pursued him relentlessly for years trying to kill him. Nevertheless, David always showed the utmost respect to "the Lord's anointed". It was a blessing from the Lord that the one remaining descendent, Mephibosheth was the son of his closest friend, Jonathan, for whose sake he wanted to show this kindness.
Mephibosheth was lame in his feet and according to the custom of the day, would not be fit to receive such an honor from the King. Mephibosheth was conscious of this, and the fact that his grandfather Saul had been David's enemy when he said, "What is your servant that you should look upon such a dead dog as I?" But David did not let past history or present conventions stop him from doing the right thing. He explained to Mephibosheth that he wished to show him kindness for the sake of his father, Jonathan. David promised to restore the land of Saul, his grandfather, to him, and said that Mephibosheth would eat at the King's table continually, just like one of his own sons.
King David kept his promise to Mephibosheth and showed him kindness all of his days.
- Talk about what it means to "give preference to one another". You can use the parable of taking the lower seat in Luke 14:7-14 to illustrate this.
- Another example is to set out a bowl of treats for each child. We have blueberries in our house right now, but use whatever you have. Put an obvious amount of extra in one bowl. Each child will want the bowl with the most blueberries. Ask, "What does Jesus want us to do? Would he want us to be selfish and take the bowl with the most treats for ourselves?"
- Reward and lavishly praise outstanding acts of kindness you witness in your home for the week. Another idea is to praise the child that gives a good report on one of their siblings. (Kind of the opposite of tattling.)
- Discuss what an honor it would be to eat at the King's table and what this would mean. (The choices foods for every meal, abundance, being in the presence of the King every day, etc...)
- Was Mephibosheth able to return to King David the kindness shown to him? Did David stand to benefit at all from his kindness? If anything, there were probably men who thought he was crazy for inviting this lame grandson of his enemy to live with him and eat at his table. David did it anyway, because it was the right thing to do.