Grades 3-6 for Sunday School
Author’s Notes: God created us with the wonderful ability to smile. We can do it from the time we are very young, sometimes until the day we die. But where does that smile come from. It comes from being happy. God created us to be happy; and in today’s lesson we’re going to find out what true happiness is, and how we can have it.
Does anyone know what the word “infectious” means? (allow the students to offer their definitions, then share this one) The Merriam-Webster Dictionary* defines “infectious” as “capable of causing infection;” or “that corrupts or contaminates.” Can anyone think of an example of something that’s infectious? (allow the students to list things that are infectious). When you hear the word “infectious” you probably think, first, of diseases. And that would make sense, since the word “infection” is nearly the same.
But the dictionary also adds one more definition of “infectious” and it is this: “spreading or capable of spreading rapidly to others.” Now, when you hear that definition, can you think of things other than diseases that might be infectious? (allow the students a few moments to think about this definition, read it again if necessary; and let them respond. Then make this observation:) What about emotions?
Let’s imagine that we are going on a little field trip, taking a walk through town. The first person that we see is very angry, and yelling at the person next to him. How do you think that other person is going to respond? Yes, they are likely to also be angry, and yell back.
Now, imagine that we see someone who is crying. How do you think those around that person would be acting? Do you think that they are probably going to be sad, too? They will be, especially if they know the person who is upset.
Now, try this: look at the person next to you, and smile. What happened? It’s not only anger and sadness that are infectious. Good emotions are catchy, too. If someone smiles at us, especially if it’s one of those really genuine smiles that goes all the way up to their eyes, it’s nearly impossible not to smile back.
What can a smile tell you about another person? A smile usually means someone is happy. Do you think other people see you as a happy person? Do you think you are? What makes you happy? (allow the students to share things that make them happy – and if you are using the handouts, have them make a list of what they think does or could make them happy)
Our lesson today is about happiness – what we may think can make us happy, and what will truly make us happy. So let’s all smile, and see where true happiness can come from. And the first place we’ll find it is in this week’s memory verse.
Memory verse: (Have the children repeat this verse with you several times, until they are able to say it themselves. And encourage them to repeat it to others several times during the week, so that it’ll have a place in their hearts.)
“…yea, happy is that people, whose God is the LORD.” Psalm 144:15b
Opening prayer: Lord, thank You for each student who’s here, today. And thank you for the special little things you’ve given each of us, called a smile. Help us, this week, to learn where to find happiness if we’ve had trouble finding it before. And then help us remember to share our happiness with others. Amen.
This Week’s Lesson: Happiness!
(God wants us to be happy)
Do you believe that God wants you to be happy? Why or why not? (allow the students to respond) Did you know that the Bible contains the word “happy” (which is sometimes translated “blessed”) over one hundred times? If God said something to us that many times, we can be sure that it is very important to Him. Yes, God certainly wants us to be happy. He did give us smiles, after all!
But what is happiness? Can anyone here tell us what they believe “happiness” means? (allow the students to respond) Dictionary.com ** says happiness is “the quality or state of being happy…good fortune; pleasure; contentment; joy.” If we are happy then we find joy and contentment in life.
(How can we be truly happy?)
So now that we know what happiness is, and that God wants us to be happy, let’s take some time to find out how the Bible says we can find true happiness. We won’t look at all one hundred verses. But let’s just examine a few, and see what God has to say about it.
Our memory verse is a great place to start because the best way to find happiness is to make God the Lord of your life. Listen to what these verses say about happiness:
“Happy is that people, that is in such a case: yea, happy is that people, whose God is the LORD.” Psalm 144:15
“Happy art thou, O Israel: who is like unto thee, O people saved by the LORD, the shield of thy help, and who is the sword of thy excellency! and thine enemies shall be found liars unto thee; and thou shalt tread upon their high places.” Deuteronomy 33:29
“Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the LORD his God:” Psalm 146:5
These verses all talk about finding happiness in the same place: in God! Why do you suppose we can be joyful and content when we have placed our trust in God? (allow the students to take the time to think about this, then answer) God is all-powerful, so we can believe that He can do anything. And He’s all-knowing, so He always knows what is going on in our lives. So we can trust this all-knowing, all-powerful God to take care of all of our needs. That means we don’t need to worry about anything. We can be content. We can be happy!
Does anyone know who Solomon was? Solomon was King David’s son, and he became king after David died. He wrote two of the Psalms, and most of Proverbs, and the books of Ecclesiastes and Song of Solomon. He had more homes, more possessions, more wealth, more wives, and more power than nearly anyone who lived before or after him. Yet the book of Ecclesiastes is full of sadness, not happiness. And that is because Solomon had come to understand that happiness is not found in any of those things.
He learned, instead, that true happiness is found in godly pursuits. These are the words of Solomon, speaking about happiness. Listen, and see if you can tell me where Solomon said we should look:
“Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding.” Proverbs 3:13
“He that despiseth his neighbour sinneth: but he that hath mercy on the poor, happy is he.” Proverbs 14:21
“Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.” Proverbs 29:18
Where does Solomon say we can find happiness?
How would finding wisdom and understanding make us happy? That goes right back to our first source of happiness…God. There are many scripture passages that tell us to ask God for wisdom. So if we are seeking wisdom from Him, then we are growing closer to Him. And that, we’ve already seen, brings us happiness.
And how does obeying God’s law and showing mercy to the poor make us happy? That sounds like tough work. But when we truly love someone, then doing things to please them makes us happy. Think about your own family. How does it make you feel to do something you know makes your mom or dad happy? Doesn’t that make you happy, too?
What about showing mercy to the poor. Has anyone here ever had the opportunity to minister to the poor? Perhaps you’ve prepared a meal or served one. Perhaps you’ve collected food items or clothing; or given something else that they needed. If you have, how did you feel as you showed such kindness?
If we truly love the Lord, then doing things that are pleasing to Him should make us happy. Showing kindness to people who are less fortunate than we are, and obeying His commandments are certainly actions that make God happy. So that should make us happy, too.
Another source of happiness, according to God’s Word, is having the opportunity to share the gospel, and witness for the Lord. In Acts 26:2, Paul was standing before King Agrippa, and had these words to say: “I think myself happy, king Agrippa, because I shall answer for myself this day before thee touching all the things whereof I am accused of the Jews:” Those things Paul was being accused of were the things he was doing as a Christian – preaching and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ. It brought a great deal of happiness to Paul to be able to share his love for the Lord with anyone who would listen. And imagine having the privilege to share Christ with a king!
Now let’s take a moment to review. Name some ways we’ve talked about that we can find true happiness.
You may not have found these sources of happiness very surprising. But the Bible does contain a few that may be. For instance, in John 13:17, Jesus is talking to His disciples and says, “If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.” Would anyone like to guess what Jesus meant by “these things” that would make them happy? Jesus had just shown great humility by washing their dirty, smelly feet. He wanted to teach His disciples to be willing to serve one another. So what did Jesus say would make them happy? Serving!
Then our last look at where we can find happiness can be found in the book of 1 Peter. At this point in the history of the church, there was a great deal of persecution. Every day Christians were being arrested, tortured, and even killed for their faith. How do you think you’d be feeling if you had to look over your shoulder every day, to see if you were going to be arrested for loving and serving Jesus? Did the word “happy” come to mind? It did for Peter. Listen to these words that he wrote concerning the suffering that the Christians were enduring:
“But and if ye suffer for righteousness' sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled;” 1 Peter 3:14
“If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified.” 1 Peter 4:14
Peter had walked and talked with the Lord Jesus while He was on the earth. And nothing made him happier than being like Jesus. He had seen Jesus suffer on the cross, and even give up His life for Peter, the other disciples, and each one of us. So Peter considered it a privilege to suffer for Christ, as he felt he could then identify with Him. It actually made Peter happy to suffer for Jesus.
There were other happy sufferers in the New Testament, too. In Acts 16, we find Paul and Silas sitting in jail, having been severely beaten, and their feet fastened in stocks. But Acts 16:25 says, “And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them.” How would you describe the way Paul and Silas seemed to be feeling at midnight? They sound happy! Only someone who loves God can find happiness in the midst of such suffering.
So what can we learn about what true happiness is, and where it comes from? Did we see that we can only be happy if everything is going well? That we can only be happy if we’re doing good things for ourselves? No! True happiness can be found only in God: in serving Him by serving others, in obeying His Word, in gaining more wisdom from His truths in the Bible, and even in suffering for Him. That is a happiness no one can take away from us! It’s a happiness that makes us sure that, whatever we go through here on earth, it will be worth it all when we stand before Jesus in Heaven…and He smiles, because He is happy with what we have done and have been for Him.
Closing Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for showing us, today, how we can really be happy. Not the way that some people think of happiness – in things that don’t last, or don’t really make us happy. Remind us that true happiness is only found in You. And help us to look for that happiness, in You, and then share it with others even this week. Amen.
Closing Comments/ Activity:
You have an opportunity to go out into your homes, schools and neighborhoods this week and be infectious. Keep in mind that almost all emotions are infectious: anger, sadness, fear…and happiness. What will you spread to others this week? If it’s going to be happiness, it doesn’t have to be difficult. It can start with a simple smile.
True or False
1. We can infect people with good things. (true)
2. Having a lot of money will lead to true happiness. (false)
3. Showing kindness to the poor can make us happy. (true)
4. Paul was only happy after he was released from prison. (false – he was happy in prison, too)
5. Being obedient can make us happy. (true)
6. Jesus said that serving others can make us happy. (true)
True happiness cannot be found in having worldly things;
For they will surely pass away with time.
But when we search for happiness in Jesus Christ, alone,
A lasting happiness is what we’ll find.
Lisa DeVinney, November 2011