Big Idea: When we put others first like Jesus did for us, we shine like stars in a dark sky.
Bible Passage: Philippians 2:1-18
Parent Prep: In this passage, Paul calls the Philippians to love and serve each other 'in the same mindset as Christ Jesus' (verse 5). Paul explains that to be a follower of Jesus is to live in the exact opposite way to the way the world acts: to be humble, put others first, and care for their needs as more important than our own. This is the only true way to be exalted by the Father and 'shine like stars in a dark sky'. In the Kingdom of God, things are upside down. The world tells us that in order to be exalted and 'shine like a star', we must be proud, self-promoting, put ourselves before others and look out for our own needs. This is the world our children live in. So it's okay for our kids to be confused by Paul's teaching. It's also okay to find it difficult to practice his instructions. They don't come naturally to anyone, not even children. When we teach children to 'be humble', 'looking out for the interest in others', we must first help them see the beauty of what Jesus has done for us. Then it's helpful to acknowledge that it is hard, and that we cannot do it without His help. Ultimately, this leads us to prayer, to ask for His help to shine like a star in this darkened world. That way, when kids find humility, serving and caring for others difficult, we can acknowledge that they are not alone, and not to give up, and point them back to Jesus for His help.
Read Philippians 2:1-18 together in a children's Bible, or this easy-to-read version here.
Paul gives the Philippian church some tough instructions. Read verse 3 together. He tells them to never, ever, ever do anything to put themselves first and be selfish.Then read verse 14. He tells us to never ever complain or argue! Try and remember the last time your family went a whole day without someone putting themself first, arguing or complaining. (Extra points for families who don't argue trying this activity!)
Instead of living the way the rest of the world lives, Paul tells God's family, "In your life together, think the way Christ Jesus thought." (verse 5). That's pretty hard to do all of the time. You can read how Jesus thought by reading through verses 5-11 together in Paul's poem. He was King and he didn't even come to earth to boss people around and tell them to do what's right. He came as a servant and served His people by laying His life down for us to save us.
Paul says that to really 'shine like a star' in this dark and broken world, we must also be ready to lay down the things we want, and look out for the needs of others. That way people will see the way we live and act, and be surprised by our love and hope and want to know more about Jesus.
Ask children to name someone they think is a 'shining star' in this world. Think celebrities, pop stars, superheroes etc. What makes this person a 'shining star'? What makes them so special? Is it their humility, and ability to put other people first? Help children see that being a 'shining star' in this life is different to being a shining star in God's family.
The world tells us to 'make yourself the most important', but Jesus says, 'make God the most important, and love others as you love yourself.' It's upside-down and the opposite to what people are usually like, but that's how we'll really be like Jesus, and be shining stars to point others to Him.
It's pretty tough to be like Jesus, we need the help of His Holy Spirit. The best way to be like Jesus is know Him, and to know His great love for us. We can read all about how great Jesus is in Paul's poem in verses 5-11. This week, write your own poem about how great Jesus is. It could be an acrostic poem, describing Jesus' humility and love for us through His death on the cross. You can choose any word for your acrostic – but for younger children, the word JESUS is nice and short. Consider using the word 'PHILIPPIANS' for older children, as a challenge to see if they can find many describing words for the humble character of our God.
Consider sharing this acrostic poem with our church family, or with another family in our church (like your 'gospel partner families), so that they can be encouraged to 'think like Jesus in their lives together', too.
Have a great week!