A blogger friend of mine has decided that she’s going to be hosting a weekly memory verse link-up, and I thought that was a great opportunity to start sharing some of the memory verses that we work on and the verses that we study throughout our weeks. I’ll also share some of the activities that I use with our memory verses (both with my children at home, and if it’s a CBS memory verse with my CBS class) to help you teach your children (and yourselves) the verses.
The first verse that I want to focus on this week is our current memory verse for Community Bible Study. This week we’re learning Matthew 5:43-44.
You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.” But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.
This has been a fun couple of verses to share with my children because it’s a great place to really start applying the Bible to ourselves. Sometimes, when you’re a child, you haven’t committed so many sins that you can recognize yourself, but even a four year old can tell you about the person who hasn’t been nice to them that they’re not going to be friends with anymore.
This is a great opportunity to show children that according to the Bible that feeling of hatred that they might be feeling toward the person that is mean to them is a sin against God.
I began by finding a couple of videos to share with the children on loving your enemies:
- I love this video called (Tough) Love Your Enemies from Blimey Cow. It talks about the ways we justify our disobedience to this command of God.
- I also was touched by this Love Your Enemies animation. I want to be this person, but I fail daily.
We discussed how easy it is to dislike your “enemies,” but that the Bible tells us that we’re supposed to love that person and pray for them. Rose immediately thought of an application in the book Enemy Pie. It’s a lovely book about how an enemy can be turned to a friend. This would be a great book to build into a unit study, and here are some resources to help you do so:
- Teach with Picture Books: Enemy Pie
- The Official Enemy Pie website with activities and lesson plans
- Enemy Pie Activities and Printables ($)
- Enemy Pie Comprehension Questions and Activities
- The Book Nook (Enemy Pie)
And, of course, if you decide to run the enemy pie theme the week you start memorizing these verses, you need to make sure you have a pie making day at the end.
The next thing that I did with my children as we learned this verse was to turn it in an opportunity to pray. Jesus commands us in these verses to pray for those who persecute us.
To persecute, according to Dictionary.com, means to pursue with harassing or oppressive treatment, especially because of religious or political beliefs, ethnic or racial origin, gender identity, or sexual orientation.
The online version of Webster’s 1828 Dictionary says that persecute means
- In a general sense, to pursue in a manner to injure, vex or afflict; to harass with unjust punishment or penalties for supposed offenses; to inflict pain from hatred or malignity.
- Appropriately, to afflict, harass, or destroy for adherence to a particular creed or system of religious principles, or to a mode of worship. Thus Nero persecuted the Christians by crucifying some, burning others, and condemning others to be worried by dogs.
I think that between the two definitions we can all agree that there’s someone in our lives that we’ve felt persecuted by or that we’ve had such a hard time getting along with that, in our heart, we feel like they’re our enemies.
So, we thought of people who are mean to us or we have a hard time getting along with, and we made a list in our prayer journal. That was our new prayer list. Every time we had our individual prayer times we would pray for those people. We would pray for our kindness towards them. We would pray for God to touch their hearts. We would pray that they would grow to be kinder towards us.
I realized, as I experienced this time of prayer with my children, that I wanted to take this prayer response into my time with my middle school and high school Community Bible Study class. However, sometimes when you have a classroom full of people, you have to get a little fancier for them to feel the application/lesson applied. So, I set out to make an enemy prayer response station for them.
The first thing that I did was to print out a printable heart template and to cut out some hearts from the template with some valentine’s themed scrapbook paper I had gotten a while back in the dollar spot at Target. Pink and red construction paper would work just as well.
Then, I took a piece of poster board and cut it in half. We have fifteen students in our class, so I felt that a full poster board would be too much. (Plus a half sheet to poster board is easier to carry up the two flights of stairs to my classroom!) I put letters on it titling it “Enemies I need to pray for. . .”
Then, application was easy. All I had to do was leave the hearts out and have students take the time to put names on the backs of the hearts and tape them, name side down to the poster board as they prayed for them. Name side down was so no one else could see and no gossip about who doesn’t like who will spread.
I also created a memory verse game for the class. I put words from the memory verse onto pieces of index cards (and added words that weren’t in the memory verse to the pile). I made three sets to divide the class into three teams. The winning team is the team who can put together the memory verse correctly in the fastest amount of time.
So, those are our ideas on learning and focusing on loving our enemies. Have you ever taught children (from toddler to high school) on these verses? What techniques and games have you used? Just leave a note in the comments and we’ll all be able to get some new ideas!