A better way to teach the Fruit of the Spirit to kids!

A better way to teach the Fruit of the Spirit to kids!


– When you think of the Fruit
of the Spirit from the Bible, is this what you think of? A plate full of juicy,
slightly brown, literal fruit? Me, too. And for so
long, that’s exactly how we’ve presented it to our kids. But I think there’s a better way. (gentle music) Hi, I’m Christie Thomas,
the Bedtime Devo Mama. Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about the Fruit of the Spirit. You know, from Galatians 5
where Paul is contrasting a life lived according
to our fleshly desires versus a life lead by the Holy Spirit. Usually we talk about
the Fruits of the Spirit as if they were actual fruit. I can’t count the number of kids songs and posters and curriculums that liken each of the virtues mentioned by Paul to apples and bananas and grapes. It’s always struck me as odd that we focus so much on physical
fruit because the concept of fruit growing in our
lives is so metaphorical. Even most adults probably
don’t fully understand it because we aren’t nearly
as connected to the land and agriculture as the ancient people this letter was written to. It is still explainable to kids but they almost need
a background in botany to understand it. This is how I explained it
to my son the other night. My life is like a tree. I want to be planted by a
river, not in the desert. Having my roots grow into the river will help me grow big and strong and will also grow good fruit. The river is like God’s love. When I let myself suck up God’s love, I grow big and strong
in my heart and soul. Then my life will start
to grow good fruit. Now, this fruit isn’t fruit that you eat, but something that can
only grow in my life when I’m full of God’s love. It come popping out of me and looks like love, joy, peace, patience,
kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness,
and self-control. Now, bear in mind that
my son is almost nine and is on the cusp of being able to actually understand some metaphors. Children any younger than
this won’t get it at all. The problem is that this
word picture is so far beyond the concrete
thinking done by young kids that they usually end up confused. Either they just memorized
a list with no real change occurring in their lives, or they just get hungry. We tell them they need to
show the Fruits of the Spirit, but we don’t actually
plant them by living water. So what Paul is talking about here is that when we plant ourselves
deep into the life of God, into the love of God, our lives
look drastically different than those of the rest of the world. There are other ways to illustrate this and that is why I like a book called Maybe God Is Like That
Too by Jennifer Grant. This incredible picture
book takes the concept of physical fruit right
out and focuses instead on what love, joy, peace, etc.
actually look like in our lives. It’s probably one of my
favorite concept books of all time because it
takes an idea that’s been done to death and
reinvents it in a way that is much more understandable to kids. In fact, one of the things
I like best about this book is that it takes the
agricultural metaphor right out. The main character is a
boy who lives with his grandma in an apartment in a big city. Definitely not agricultural. Because, really, what does joy look like? An old song from Sunday
School would tell me that joy is like a banana. (gentle music) But joy isn’t like a banana. But it is like the feeling of flying high on a swing at recess. What does love look like? Again, an old song would tell me that love is like an orange. Really? It’s nothing like an orange. But it is like the feeling of a special hug from grandma. Those are things that
kids can identify with and it makes this list
of virtues much more than a simple list to be memorized. It makes the list into ideas
that a child can actually see lived out and can
see in his own life, too. Grandma tells the boy this: Whenever you see love, joy,
and peace, God is there. Frankly, I’d rather see true life change in my kids than simply have them memorize a list of virtues. I want them to truly understand the difference that God makes in our lives rather than be confused
by an ancient metaphor. And if we need to throw
out the fruit for a bit, let’s do it. Now, you can find this book, Maybe God Is Like That
Too by Jennifer Grant on Amazon or at your local library. And if you love the books that I suggest, you can download my free list of the 10 best Christian picture
books using the link below. If you enjoyed this video, make sure you subscribe on
YouTube or like my Facebook page so you’ll get notifications
when new videos are out. Each one contains short,
sweet, hope filled ideas for spiritually parenting our kids. See you next time. (gentle music)