Use this Sermon on the Mount Sunday School lesson to teach children to keep their word.
Lesson: (Note: Always allow students enough time to think about and answer the questions before clarifying the teaching.)
Ask students, Can any of you think of a time when someone promised you something or told you that they were going to do something, but then didn’t do it? (Allow students to share. If the teacher can think of an appropriate example when this happened to him or her, they should also share.)
How did it make you feel when that person broke their promise to you?
Have you ever broken a promise you made to someone?
(Have a student or two read Matthew 5:33-37.)
Jesus says not to swear. What does it mean to swear? Sometimes swearing means saying bad words. But swearing also means making promises. Someone might make a promise by saying, “I swear on my mother’s grave” or “I swear that if I don’t do something, you can have my favorite toy.”
When Jesus lived, people swore by things like Heaven and Earth and their cities and their own heads. They would say things like, “I swear I’ll do this and if I don’t, then Heaven will come down, or the Earth will crack, or our city will be destroyed, or my head will fall off.” Do you think those things would really happen if someone didn’t do what they said they would? Can you make Heaven come down or make the Earth crack, or make our city get destroyed, or make your head fall off just by breaking a promise? Of course not!
Take a piece of your hair. Pull out just one piece. Now hold that piece of hair out in front of you and think real hard. Try to make that piece of hair change to a different color.
You can’t do it. Jesus says that we shouldn’t swear because we can’t make things happen. We can’t make Heaven come down or the Earth crack or our city be destroyed or our head fall off. We can’t even change the color of our own hair. Only God can do those things! So for us to swear about them is just silly. And it’s also disrespectful to God because we’re making it sound like we can do something that only He can do.
So if we shouldn’t swear, what should we do?
(Have another student read Matthew 5:37 again.)
Jesus says that we should let our “Yes” be yes and our “No” no. That means that if we say we will do something, we should do it. We don’t have to swear about it. We don’t have make promises about it. We should just say if we will do something or not and then make sure we do or don’t do what we said. If we always do what we say we’re going to do, then people will know that they can trust us and we won’t have to make promises or swear for people to believe us.