God’s love for people isn’t based on how much they deserve to be loved at any particular moment.
…And neither should our love for each other.
As we recognize Valentine’s Day, a day that traditionally represents love, encourage your students to love each other with the purest of all loves – God’s love.
Use this Preteen Valentine’s Day Lesson to teach students that our love for others should overflow in everything we say and do.
-Nick Diliberto, Preteen Ministry
PRETEEN LESSON ON VALENTINE’S DAY
Written by Michelle Clairday
Bible: Philippians 1:9-11; John 13:35; Proverbs 3:12
Bottom Line: Our love for others should overflow in everything we say and do.
- Paper clips
- Pieces of twine and magnets (one per student)
- Tons of construction paper hearts or foam hearts
- 2 small bowls
OPENING GAME: OVERFLOWING WITH LOVE
Divide students into two teams of equal size.
Cut dozens of hearts out of construction paper or purchase a large package of foam hearts.
Attach a paper clip onto each heart, and scatter them all over the room.
Cut pieces of twine (about 12 inches long).
Tie one piece of twine around each magnet, so when one end of the twine is held the magnet dangles from the other end.
Cover the floor, tables, chairs and any other surface with hearts.
Place two bowls on the floor on opposite sides of the room.
The goal is for the bowls to be overflowing with hearts.
Have each team stand behind their team’s assigned bowl, and give each student a magnet.
HOW TO PLAY THE GAME
Say: This room is just abounding with love… and I mean abounding.
It is completely covered in hearts.
When I say GO, I want you to walk around the room with your magnets, pick up all of the hearts, and drop them in your team’s bowl.
You will simply hold one end of the twine and let your magnet dangle, wave it over the paper clip that is attached to the heart, and pick it up.
There are a few rules.
Please do not run.
You must either walk or crawl.
You can’t just pick up the hearts with your hands.
For every heart that your team unfairly picks up, I will remove a heart from your team’s bowl.
You have to use the magnets to move them into your team’s bowl, and the bowl cannot be moved.
Whichever team has the most hearts in their bowl at the end of the game – WINS!
Say: Look at those bowls now!
They are abounding with hearts just like the room was a few minutes ago.
When we say something is abounding, we mean there is a whole lot of it.
In this case, there are a whole lot of hearts.
Just look at the way the bowls are practically overflowing.
It’s like each of these bowls is now so full of love that the love can’t help but spill over.
Isn’t it great when love comes spilling over?
Think about how you feel when you see a grandparent or friend you haven’t seen in a while and get a big hug?
It feels amazing.
You feel all the love in that hug, and it just makes you want to spend even more time with that person.
Love works a lot like the magnets we used to pick up our hearts.
When someone feels your love, they want to spend time around you.
They want to hear what you have to say because they know everything you say or do is motivated by love.
The Apostle Paul wrote the Book of Philippians from prison in Rome.
Like so many books in the New Testament, the Book of Philippians began as a letter.
Philippi was in Macedonia, and Macedonia was quite a distance from Rome.
The church at Philippi had sent Paul gifts through one of their members, Epaphroditus, and this was the ‘thank you letter’ Paul sent in return.
Paul started his letter with a greeting then he prayed for the church at Philippi.
Read Philippians 1:9-11.
And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge, and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.
Paul prayed the Philippians would love more and more, because he wanted them to be so full of love that lost people would be drawn to them, kind of like a magnet.
He understood what Jesus had told the disciples in John 13:35 when Jesus said that all men would know they were His disciples if they loved one another.
He wanted the church at Philippi to love each other so much that others would see their love and want to know more about Jesus.
The letter to the Philippians was written in Greek.
Did you know there are several words for love in the Greek language?
There’s a word for family love, another for the love between friends, and another for the love between a husband and a wife.
It wasn’t any of these words that Paul chose when he was praying for the Philippians.
He chose the most important of the Greek words for love, ‘agape love.’
Agape love means to love as God loves, and God loves unconditionally.
God's love is a perfect love, and it's unchanging.
God’s love for people isn’t based on how much we deserve to be loved at any particular moment.
He loves us just as much on days when we fail as He does on days when we’ve done our best to serve him.
He loves perfectly all the time.
In Proverbs 3:12, the Bible tells us the Lord disciplines those He loves.
We can’t just do what we want when it goes against God’s rules and expect it to go unnoticed.
He loves us too much to let us continue to do wrong.
If you’ve been serving God for any time at all, you’ve probably felt that feeling in the pit of your stomach when you did something you knew wasn’t very pleasing to God.
It's not a very pleasant feeling.
That’s the Holy Spirit letting you know you have done wrong and calling you to repent, to turn away from what you were doing wrong and do what is right.
Did you know you are just as loved by God in those moments as you are when you are doing your very best?
It's easy to turn to God and ask forgiveness because you know He still loves you.
Paul wanted the Philippians to be the kind of church that loved so much the way God loved that people would still feel loved even when they made terrible mistakes.
He wanted the Philippian church to love with knowledge and discernment.
In other words, Paul wanted them to love unconditionally, but he didn‘t want them to be afraid to tell people that what they were doing displeased God.
He wanted the Philippians to love each other enough to be honest with them, so they could help the people who were struggling with sin to repent and grow closer to God.
I want to be close to God, and I want the people we love to be close to God, too.
It isn't easy to watch someone you love to do things that are wrong.
You want to help them, right?
If you love them with the abounding love the Book of Philippians talks about, you will be able to tell them what they are doing displeases God and help them repent.
And you will be sure to choose your words carefully so they can still feel your love in the kindness in your words.
There’s an old saying, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”
It’s true, isn’t it?
It’s much easier to listen to what someone is trying to tell you if you know how much they care about you.
This week, make abounding love your goal.
Love like God loves.
Close in prayer.
SMALL GROUP DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
1. Why is it important for us to love others with an abounding love?
2. Can you think of a time when someone who loved you talked to you about a sin area in your life? Did you listen? Why or why not?
3. Have you ever had someone you weren’t so sure cared about you try to correct you when you did something wrong? Did you listen? Why or why not?
4. What is the difference between agape love and the other types of love?
5. How does it make you feel to know God loves you just as much when you are struggling to serve Him as He loves you when you are doing your very best?
6. Paul’s letter to the Philippians was a thank you letter. Have you ever received a thank you letter? How did it make you feel? Have you ever sent one?
7.We talked about how love is like a magnet, drawing others in. Can you think of a time when you felt someone's love and concern for you, and it made you want to spend more time with that person?
8. Why is it important to not only love people the way God loves them but also to use discernment to see when people aren’t doing things God’s way?
9. How does Paul’s prayer that the Philippians let love abound more and more match up with Jesus’ words to the disciples about being known by their love for one another?
10. How can you show love for a friend who is doing wrong?
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