Around this time of year, you can’t go far without seeing a pumpkin. They’re at the grocery store, on front porches, and any time you open up a social media app, you’re sure to see a cute kid posing in front of them. This week’s lesson gives us an opportunity to use pumpkins as a reminder of the work we all need done in our own hearts. Pumpkins can look really appealing from the outside, but as soon as you cut into one, it’s a mess – goop and seeds everywhere! Similarly, it’s easy to try to make ourselves look really good on the outside, but God’s Word tells us that what’s inside, our hearts, is what really matters. Just like going to carve a pumpkin requires you to dig out the mess inside a pumpkin, becoming a person of integrity requires us to be transformed from the inside out.
INTEGRITY: Following God inside, outside, and everywhere!
MEMORY VERSE: “People with integrity walk safely, but those who follow crooked paths will slip and fall.” PROVERBS 10:9 (NLT)
This Week’s Finish Line: Integrity Begins with Trusting that God's Way is Perfect
In the Bible, God talks about being the same person on the inside as we are on the outside. The Pharisees were religious leaders that were VERY concerned about following the law but did not do it out of love for God. They cared more about what people saw on the outside, like how they looked and making sure to follow the rules and say the “right” things. In Luke 11, Jesus had been invited to eat at a Pharisees’ house. One of the rules that Pharisees thought was really important for people to follow was about a special way to wash their hands before eating. But Jesus just sat down to eat, which made the Pharisees really confused. Jesus told them that what’s really important is what is on the inside. Even if what other people see on the outside is totally perfect, our heart can be broken, messy, and full of sin. The Bible says there’s only one way for this to change – by allowing God to transform us from the inside out! In Ezekiel 36, we read about how God has the power to change our hearts from being sinful and stubborn to being tender and clean. Only He can do that!
- What did the Pharisee notice about Jesus when He sat down for dinner? (He didn’t wash his hands before the meal.) Why did it bother the Pharisee so much? (It was tradition to wash your hands in a specific way.)
- Look at verse 39. What do you think Jesus meant when He told the Pharisees that they cleaned the outside but were filthy on the inside? (They were concerned about looking good on the outside, following the rules, etc., but on the inside, they did not love God or want to follow Him.)
- What is the “outside of the cup” Jesus talked about? (The actions that people can see and what they looked like) What is the inside of the cup? (Their hearts)
- Who is speaking in these verses? (The Lord) What does He promise to take out of our INSIDES? (Our hard, stubborn hearts that don’t want to follow Him) What does God promise to give us instead? (A new, tender heart and a new spirit)
- How can we be transformed from the inside out? (God loves us so much, but our hard sinful hearts keep us from being with Him. Because of His love, Jesus came and died on the cross to take the punishment we deserve because of our hard hearts and He came back to life on the 3rd day. God is willing and able to give us new and tender hearts when we ask for forgiveness because of Jesus’ sacrifice. When we put our trust in Him, the Holy Spirit comes to live INSIDE us and gives us the ability to love God and follow Him inside, outside, and everywhere.)
- What gift from God helps us follow His decrees and laws? In other words, what on our INSIDE helps us follow Him on the OUTSIDE? (His Spirit)
READ LUKE 11:37-40
READ EZEKIEL 36:26-27
Bring it Home Conversations & Activities:
* Check out our vision for parents and how to use these activities each week.
Teacher: Meal Time
Review Luke 11:37-40 and Ezekiel 36:26-27. Do you think there are areas in your life where you can be like the Pharisees and look good on the OUTSIDE but be dirty on the INSIDE? What are they? What are some things people do to look like a “good Christian” on the outside? (go to church, know all the right answers, memorize Bible verses but not live them out) What is a prayer you can say to God when you’re tempted to not follow Him on the inside, outside, and everywhere?
Friend: Drive Time
Make a list of things that can look really good on the outside but be yucky or dirty on the inside. (Examples: a car that’s gone through a car wash but is messy inside, a pumpkin, a coffee cup that was left out for a few days, etc.) What is the best solution to make those things totally clean? (start by cleaning out the inside!) In the same way, God wants us to be transformed from the inside out, so He starts with our hearts!
If you have chosen to put your trust in Jesus, thank God for replacing your heart of stone with a new heart & spirit. Ask Him to help you rely on the Holy Spirit when tempted to not follow Him inside, outside, & everywhere so you can be a person of integrity.
This week buy a pumpkin to carve and walk through the Pumpkin Gospel as a family! Click here to find more instructions. Invite friends or neighbors and make it an opportunity to share the gospel with others. Use it as a reminder to be reminded that no matter how good we look on the outside, our inside is yucky because of sin (anything we think, say, or do that doesn’t please God), and that people of integrity are transformed from the inside out – something only God can do!
Thank God for replacing your heart of stone with a new heart & spirit. Ask Him to help you rely on the Holy Spirit when tempted to not follow Him inside, outside, & everywhere so you can be a person of integrity.
Next week we will continue looking at the character trait of INTEGRITY.
Image via Unsplash