Grades 3-6 Lesson 7 for Sunday School: 
Imitators of Christ – A Thankful Heart

Teacher’s Notes:  Over the last few weeks, we’ve looked at what it means to call ourselves “Christians.”  We are called to be Christ-like; and Jesus Christ, Himself, lived out many great examples for us while He walked on this earth.  This week, we are going to begin looking at a few examples of others in The Bible who also lived lives that were Christ-like.  As we did from looking at Jesus’ examples, we can also learn from these godly men how we are to live if we want to be Christ-like.  And this week, we’re going to focus on being thankful.

Thankful heart - Lisa DeVinney

Opening comments/story:
Remind the students that we are learning about what it means to be Christ-like.  And that last week we talked about Jesus’ sacrificial love.  Then ask the students if any of them would like to share an experience they had this week where they sacrificed something for someone they love.  Let them know that if they act in a loving way toward others, they are  also pleasing their Heavenly Father.  Rejoice with them in the ways they are all becoming more like Jesus!

Over the past few weeks, we’ve been studying what it means to be “Christians,” or imitators of Christ.   In order to find out what Jesus is like, we’ve especially looked at specific examples from His life that have taught us how to use God’s Word as a sword; and to be compassionate, humble, submissive, and loving. 

This week, instead of looking at examples from Jesus’ life, we’re going to begin looking at a few other Bible characters who can also teach us to act as God wants us to.  Did you know that there are verses in the Bible that tell us that God gave us His word for just that reason?  Listen to this verse:  1 Corinthians 10:11 says, “Now all these things happened unto them for examples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.”

A lot of what we do, we learn to do by watching or listening to someone else.  Can you think of anything you do that you’ve learned to do by watching someone else?  (Allow your students to share what they’ve learned from someone else.)  There are people in our lives who are good examples.  They can teach us how to live Christ-like lives.  And there are probably others who are bad examples.  God wants us to learn from both.  He wants us to see the consequences of doing the bad things, so that we won’t want to do that.  And He wants us to see the great blessings in the lives of those who are following Him.  Then we should follow those good examples!

This week, we’re going to see both of these kinds of examples.  We’re going to look at a group of people who were healed by Jesus.  But they didn’t all react the same way.  Only one will be a godly example, and come back to say “thank You” to Jesus.  So this week we’re going to look at having a thankful heart.

Do these words sound familiar to you?  “Don’t forget to say thank you!” From the time that children are able to talk, their parents often try to teach them to say “thank you” when they are given something.  Have you ever been given something, or had something done for you, and you didn’t say “thank you?”  What are some reasons why we might not say thank you, right away?  (We forget.  We are too excited.  There isn’t time. We don’t get the chance.)    Sometimes we realize that we’ve forgotten to say “thank you,” but are too embarrassed to go back and do it later.  Have your parents ever made you go back and say “thank you” when you’ve forgotten?  How did that make you feel?  Were you embarrassed to admit that you’d forgotten?  And why, do you suppose, is it important to say “thank you” anyway?  It is recognizing that what we have came from someone else, and that we are grateful to them for what they have given.  That’s why it’s polite, or good manners, to thank others.  But more importantly, saying “thank you” is being Christ-like!  Let’s take a look at this week’s memory verse, to see what God has to say about being thankful.  Then we’ll look at an example from the book of Luke.

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.)

“Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;” Ephesians 5:20

Opening prayer:  Lord, thank You for each student who’s here, today.  And thank You for Your Holy Bible, where we can read about people who are good examples for us to learn from.  Please open our eyes, and ears, and hearts now to learn about being thankful, especially when it comes to thanking You for all You’ve given us, and done for us.    Amen.

This Week’s Lesson:  (only one says thank you)

 (Suggested Bible Reading):  Luke 17:11-19 (you may read the entire passage now, or just refer back to it when suggested in the lesson)
11And it came to pass, as he went to Jerusalem, that he passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee.
 12And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off:
 13And they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.
 14And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go shew yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed.
 15And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God,
 16And fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan.
 17And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine?
 18There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger.
 19And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole.
There are some diseases in this world that are so catchy, and that can be so harmful, that a person who has it is kept away from other people.  Do you know of anyone who has been kept away from other people because they are sick?  Have you ever been sick, and your parents wouldn’t let you go spend time with a friend because they were concerned that you might make your friend sick?  Back in Bible times, there was a disease called leprosy.  Leprosy is still around today, but in most areas of the world, it isn’t quite the same as it was when Jesus was on earth.  Leprosy caused damage to nerve cells, resulting in damage to the skin.  As a lepers skin cells were dying, they would develop open sores, and those sores would become infected.  Because leprosy caused so much damage, and was believed to be very contagious, a person who had it was forced to live outside their city walls.  Scientists are now finding cures for leprosy, but back in Bible times, there were no known cures.  If anyone was traveling and started to come close to a leper, the leper had to call out “unclean” so that others would avoid them.  They could not have jobs, so they did not have money.  And that meant they often had to beg for food to eat.  Many times, lepers would live together in groups we sometimes refer to as “leper colonies.”  But they were not allowed to go near their families.  And were certainly not allowed to go into the city to worship God in the temple.  In fact, many felt that because lepers were “unclean” they were not fit to worship God, at all.  Can you imagine how lonely lepers must have been?
Have any of you ever been very sick for a very long time?  Did you wonder if you might be sick FOREVER?  Did you miss being around other family members and friends?  Our Scripture passage today introduces us to 10 lepers who were living outside of the city of Jerusalem.  And, according to verse 12, they were observing the custom by staying far away from travelers.   But this particular day, a very special traveler happened to be passing by.  It was Jesus Christ.  Now we don’t know how the lepers knew who Jesus was.  Perhaps they heard stories of Him from others who passed by close enough for them to hear.  And while they stayed afar off, as was the custom, they did not say the usual “UNCLEAN!”  Instead, according to verse 13, “they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.”  Now these lepers may have looked pretty gruesome.  They were probably covered with open sores.  They may have been heavily bandaged to cover the sores.  And some people believe that the nerve damage caused by leprosy even resulted in parts of the infected person’s body (such as fingers, toes, ears perhaps) to fall off when they were severely infected.  If a person who looked like that was calling out to you to help them, what do you think you would do?  Do you think you might look or go the other way, pretending you didn’t hear them?  Would you try to smile at them, and tell them that you’re sorry, but cannot help?  What do you think Jesus did?  For those of you who were with us when we talked about Jesus’ compassion, what does compassion mean?  Do you remember that it meant feeling badly for someone, AND doing what you can to help?  If you or I passed a leper colony, we might be able to give them some money or food.  But we certainly could not help with their leprosy.  But there’s someone who could.  And it seems like these 10 lepers must have realized that Jesus was just the person who could help them.  And being compassionate, as He is, of course Jesus did not ignore their pleas to Him for help. 
Verse 14 says, “And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go shew yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed.”  The Bible doesn’t tell us that Jesus told them that they were healed.  It only says that He told them to go show themselves to the priest.  Now that may sound to us like a pretty silly thing to say.  But the lepers seemed to understand just what Jesus meant.  You see, the only way a leper could ever go back to his family and a normal life was if a priest examined him, determined that his leprosy was gone, and declared him “clean.”  They knew that if they tried to even enter the city to see a priest, and still had leprosy, that they would not be allowed inside the city.  So if Jesus was telling them to go to the priest, He must surely be planning to heal them!  How exciting that would be.  Do you think they hesitated, at first, to see if the disease would go away before they set out?  It doesn’t sound like it.  Did you notice what our passage said at the end of verse 14?  It said, “as they went, they were cleansed.”  They must have decided to trust Jesus, and head for the city.  That would have taken great faith on their part.  And sure enough, while they obeyed and headed into the city, Jesus did cleanse them, and took away their leprosy!  Wow!  How do you think those 10 men felt?  Do you think they were excited?  What if it had been you?  What do you think you would have done first?  Verses 15 and 16 have our example, for today, of being Christ-like.  “And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God, and fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan.”  This one man, when he realized what had happened, that Jesus had really taken away his leprosy, and restored him to normal life, went back to find Jesus.  And he thanked Jesus for what He had done.  How do you think you would react if someone came to thank you, yelling at the top of their lungs, and throwing themselves at your feet?  Would you be embarrassed at a demonstration like that?  It doesn’t sound like Jesus was.  He deserved all the praise and glory, and allowed this man to thank Him just the way he wanted to.  We talked a little earlier about how important it is to thank someone who does something special for us.  And Jesus had certainly done something very wonderful for these 10 men.  He had given them their lives back.  They would be able to go back to their families, get jobs, be with friends, and worship along with everyone else.  So this one who came back to thank Jesus is a great example to us of a Christ-like, thankful heart.  
 But look with me at verses 17 and 18:  “And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine? There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger.  In these verses, we find our example of what NOT to do.  Yes, one of the lepers came back to thank Jesus for healing him, and giving him his life back.  But Jesus had not healed just one of them.  He had healed all ten. So where were the other 9?  Why didn’t they come back, too, to say “thank you” to Jesus?  Perhaps they were too anxious to see their families.  Perhaps they wanted to make sure they got to the priest as quickly as possible.  Perhaps they were only thinking of themselves, and forgot, already, about the one who had healed them.  Whatever the reason, these 9 are examples for us of what NOT to do.  Why did Jesus care if the others came back to thank Him?  Notice that God was given the glory when the one came back to thank Jesus.  And that is why Jesus performed the miracles that He did, so that His Father in Heaven would be glorified through what He did.  The other 9 were no doubt happy that they’d been healed.  But there is no record of them showing any gratitude to God, or giving Him the glory for their healing.  How sad that these men came so close to Jesus, but perhaps missed the greatest blessing of all.
And we see that added blessing in the heart of the one who went back, when we look at the last verse of our passage.  Listen to what Jesus says about the one who came back: “And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole.”  Not only was this man cleansed of his leprosy.  Verse 19 tells us that Jesus cleansed his heart to make him “whole,” as well.  He could see this man’s heart.  And his coming back to Jesus, to thank Him and give Him the glory for his healing was enough for Jesus to know that this man had placed his faith in Jesus.  Someday, each of these men who were healed of their leprosy would grow old and die.  But only one of them would have the healing needed to help them live again, in Heaven, with Jesus.  That one was not saved by saying “thank you.”  But it was a sign of the Christ-like attitude in his heart. 
Has God ever done anything wonderful for you?  Has He given you the gift of salvation, and cleansed your heart from sin, just as he cleansed the leper from his disease?  And what about everyday things in your life?  Do you have a warm bed to sleep in?  Do you have food to eat?  Are you able to go to school, or perhaps have a job to help provide things for your family?  Now here’s the big question:  have you ever thanked God for these things?  Our Heavenly Father is so wonderful in meeting our needs, that we sometimes get used to them being met, and forget to thank Him.  Sometimes, we need to remind ourselves that God is the one who takes care of the little things, as well as the big ones.  Even when we have a job and buy the things we need, it is God who gives us the minds and talents to do those jobs.  We owe all of our thanks to Him.  And when we are saved, His Holy Spirit will remind us to give Him the praise and glory, just as the one leper who returned did.   
Closing Prayer: Thank You, Lord, for giving us this example of the one leper with a thankful heart.  Help us to remember to give You the praise and glory for all You do for us.  And help us to also to tell others about all the wonderful things You’ve done for us.  We want to be more like You, Lord.  And having thankful hearts is one way we can show our love for You.  So thank You, Lord, for being our loving Provider and God!  We love You, and are so thankful for all You’ve done.  Amen.
Class Discussion/ Activity

(Bible lesson Tic-Tac-Toe)
If you are familiar with the game Tic-Tac-Toe, you can use it to quiz your students on today’s lesson.  Here’s how it can work.  Divide the students into two teams.  One team will be X’s, and the other O’s.  Make a Tic-Tac-Toe board (draw it with chalk or even in the dirt if you have a dirt floor) with 9 spaces: three across, and three down.  Number each of the spaces using the numbers from 1 to 9.  The object of the game is to be the first team to get 3 of their marks (X’s or O’s) in a row on the board.  Have the teams take turns earning the right to put their mark on by answering a question from today’s lesson (for example:  who was the woman Jesus appeared to after His resurrection?).  If the team answers correctly, they can put their mark in a spot on the board.  To keep the game simple, you can let them choose where to put it.  To make it a little more challenging, you can make little numbers ahead of time, perhaps writing them on little pieces of paper, and have someone from the team draw one of the numbers to determine where the mark will go if they answer correctly.  Then, the next team takes a turn and is given another question to answer.  If you are using the numbers to determine where their marks go, they may pick a number the other team has already picked, and replace that mark with their own if they get the answer right.  Have fun! And the game works best if you have the questions prepared ahead of time.

 

Let’s take some time to think about the things in our lives that we should thank God for.  (Allow the students to share their thoughts.  Suggestions – home, family, food, jobs, school…)   Now, let’s look at our memory verse one more time.  What does it suggest we should be thankful for?  Just the good stuff?  No, it says we should be thankful all the time, for everything.  The good and the bad! Sometimes it seems hard to thank God when we’re in the middle of tough circumstances.  But our verse says that even then is a good time to be thankful.  It can put our hearts where they should be, looking at God instead of the things going on around us.  And let me suggest that as you go to sleep each night this week, you think back on your day, and take some time to thank God for each thing He provided or did for you.  And remember to think carefully.  There have probably been many times every day that God has provided for you in big and little ways that you might not even have noticed at the time.  But we can be like the one leper, and when we realize that there is something to go back and thank God for, we should do that!  Take time to go to Him, in prayer, and thank Him for what He’s done.  Perhaps you could write a list of things you think of to thank God for, and bring it back with you, next week, to share with the class.

If time permits, have each student pray aloud, if they are comfortable doing so, and thank God for something He has done for them this week.  Rejoice with them over the many ways God has provided in their lives.  Perhaps you could even think of things about your church to thank God for.

Devotional Poem:

A Thankful Heart

Thank You, Lord, for all you do.
All my praise belongs to You.
Everything I am and have
Comes from Your most gracious hand.

Never, Lord, let me forget,
Or, in selfishness, neglect
To bring glory to Your name;
Your great goodness to proclaim.

You are worthy, Lord, my God,
Of my songs of deepest laud;
Raised to You in joyful praise
Every moment, all my days.

 

Lisa DeVinney, March, 2017