This is a longer Awana lesson this week than normal, but if you stick with me, I hope the Word will bless you. There is SO much to this wonderful metaphor and I’ve thought up of more as I finished this lesson, but I’ll have to add those later. Also, I know that the science in this lesson is very elementary, but this is for young kids. If you think of anything to add to the symbolism, please leave a comment!! Also, PLEASE share with others, especially if they are in children’s ministry!
Materials: (A flannel board would be great! But I don’t have one. I used a large sheet of paper for my back ground.)
Brown, yellow, grey(black), blue, green and orange construction paper
- to list the Fruit of the Spirit
- to explain, simply, how a tree works
- to explain how a Christian is like a tree
Paul was trained to be a Pharisee, which meant he knew the Old Testament scriptures very well. Especially the Pentateuch. He would have also known the Psalms, such as Psalm 1:1-3: How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the Lord, And in His law he meditates day and night. He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, Which yields its fruit in its season And its leaf does not wither; And in whatever he does, he prospers. (NASB)
Scholars aren’t quite sure when the book of Galatians was written, but is was written after Paul’s trip to Jerusalem to debate the importance of the law verses the acceptance of grace. Were those who became Christians out of a Gentile life to begin following certain Jewish laws (such as circumcision) to be considered a Christian? No. They were to be circumcised in the heart, not physically. Paul wanted the Galatians to understand what a Spirit-led life should look like. In other words, how should a Christian live out Psalm 1?
Main Events of the Story and Life Application:
Trees need at least three things in order to live: light, water, and food. Christians are no different.
1) Roots: Tree roots secure a tree to the ground so that it does not topple over. They also transport water and nutrients from the soil. A tree can thrive if planted by a stream. Our roots should be founded on the Word of God and planted firmly by Truths that reflect who God is. The deeper we dig into the Word, the stronger our faith becomes so we do not topple over when the strong winds of strife come our way.
2) Trunk: The trunk of a tree moves nutrients and water from the soil up to the branches to be used by the tree. When Christians are in constant prayer and reading their Bible daily, then God can take His Truths and make them real; and then (hopefully!) the Christian will respond to be used of God.
3) Sunlight: The warmth and light from the sun allow the tree’s leaves to produce the needed food through photosynthesis. If a plant is put into a dark cabinet with just water and soil for an extended period of time, the plant will wither and die. A person must have the saving light of Jesus in order to grow in their Christian walk. Jesus is the “Light of the World” and once we are saved we become lights of the world set on a hill for others to see.
4) Water: A wilted plant probably needs water. It is necessary for tree growth. Jesus claims that He is the Living Water. Anyone who drinks of His water will never thirst again. Once again, we have to have a salvation experience with Jesus to live a life that is pleasing to the Lord.
5) Branches: Attached to trees are branches. The branches gain water and nutrients from the trunk. If there is a solid trunk, then the branches should be well attached and healthy. Jesus is the vine and Christians are the branches. We are to abide (stay continually) in Christ. Without Him we can do nothing. If we attempt to live life on our own, without Jesus, then we are like a branch that has been cut off from the tree. We will wither and die. In fact, scripture says these branches will be thrown into the fire and burned. (John 15: 1-8) If we choose to abide in Christ, then we will be pruned so that we bear fruit. Pruning might hurt. It might be sudden. We might have to heal afterwards. In His mercy, God will cut away anything that doesn’t make us healthy in Him. And once that pruning is done the fruit can begin to appear.
6) Leaves: The leaves of a tree are green because of the sugars, or food, they produce during the process of photosynthesis. The leaves take in the water, sunlight, and nutrients and form the food that the tree needs to survive. With our belief in Jesus and desire to be in His Word, then we learn that Jesus really is the Bread of Life and that our purpose is to do His will. In order to survive in this world, we must choose to abide in the One who will continually feed us.
7) Fruit: If a tree is healthy, it should produce fruit. Good fruit = a good tree; bad fruit = a bad tree. (Matthew 7:17) Christians are no different. If a Christian is abiding and feeding on the Word, then fruit should be produced. This fruit, however, is not good works, but the attitudeof who we are on the inside. Paul is specific. There are nine character qualities the Christian should exhibit. Think of an orange. It is one fruit, but there are several slices inside the fruit. The Fruit of the Spirit is one fruit, but nine character traits: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control.
God’s goal is for us to be like His Son. As we abide in Christ, cling to the Truth, and feed on the Word, then God will transform our character so that we will shine like lights or healthy fruit on a healthy tree.
Ask this to yourself: Is God’s fruit evident in my life? Am I producing good fruit? If not, what part of the tree am I lacking?
Addendum: As I was writing this more neat examples of God’s glory and how He works came to my mind. Other plant parts that could be added: flowers (bloom/serve where God puts you!), pollination (we need to have someone tell us the gospel in order to receive Christ), disease (sin can creep in and destroy), fertilizer (going to church and hearing the word of God preached). This is such an awesome picture of Romans 1 where Paul explains that God is revealed through His creation!!