Use this lesson to teach elementary students how God corrects us because he loves us through the story of Cain and Abel.
Editor’s Note: This lesson was adapted from Echoes, elementary.
Cain refuses to face his wrongdoing in the death of Abel (Genesis 4:1-16).
My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline and do not resent his rebuke. Proverbs 3:11
After leaving the Garden of Eden, Eve gave birth to two boys—Cain and Abel. As adults, both men brought sacrifices to the Lord.
When God accepted Abel’s sacrifice but rejected Cain’s, Cain became so angry and jealous that he killed his brother. Because of Cain’s sin, God condemned Cain to a life of restless wandering.
Adam and Eve followed God’s instructions to multiply and fill the earth when first Cain and then Abel were born. Cain became a farmer and Abel became a shepherd.
We don’t know if God instructed Adam’s family to bring Him specific animal sacrifices, even though later (in Leviticus) certain types of sacrifices were specified.
Both boys brought sacrifices to the Lord from the fruits of their labor, but Abel brought the best from his flock and the Lord was pleased. It was “a more excellent sacrifice” (Heb. 11:4, KJV).
The Genesis account isn’t clear as to why Cain’s offering wasn’t accepted, but Hebrews 11:4 tells us Abel’s sacrifice was pleasing to God because he approached in faith.
It might be assumed Cain’s faith and attitude displeased God.
Genesis 4:7 indicates that God gave Cain a second chance to obey. But instead of taking God’s advice, Cain became angry and murdered his brother. Cain was now openly rebellious.
When God asked Cain where Abel was, even though He knew the answer, God may have been giving Cain the opportunity to confess and repent. But Cain’s rebellion continued as he denied knowing where Abel was.
God pronounced a curse on Cain and his labors that caused Cain to express great anguish—but not repentance.
Even then, God showed His continuing love by placing a protective mark on Cain before he went out from the presence of the Lord and lived in a land called Nod (the land of wandering).
Your students will identify some ways people can show love by correcting someone.
Sometimes people have a funny way of saying “I love you!” They may yell, “Don’t do it!” when they mean, “I love you!” Let’s play a little game to understand what I’m talking about.
Ask a couple of students to act out each of the following scenarios.
A man is walking up a sidewalk carrying a bag of groceries. He can’t really see where he is going. He doesn’t see a skateboard that someone left in the middle of the sidewalk. A woman yells, “Don’t do it! Don’t take another step!”
- What could happen if the woman didn’t say anything? (The man could slip on the skateboard and get hurt.)
A little girl sees a ladder leaning up against a house. She decides to climb it. Being on the ladder causes the ladder to start wobbling in the air. Her brother yells, “Don’t do it! Don’t take another step!”
- What could happen if the brother didn’t say anything? (The ladder could fall and the little girl could get hurt.)
Help students understand that one way to show love for people is by trying to keep them from getting hurt.
- When have you ever had to tell someone “Don’t do it!”? (Encourage students to tell about times when they have corrected their little brothers or sisters or pets.)
There really are times when we can help people and show our love for them by saying “Don’t do it!” Since God loves us and wants to help us, there are times when He may tell us “Don’t do it!”
Our Bible story tells us about one of those times.
Your students will understand why God disciplined Cain and how Cain responded to God’s discipline.
Pass out the My Bible Words Activity Sheet to each student.
Let’s find out who these two men are.
Let volunteers read the paragraphs about Cain and Abel and point to each one in the picture.
Adam and Eve had not needed to grow grain or raise animals for food when they lived in the garden. After they disobeyed God and left the garden, things changed.
Away from the garden, they worked hard to get things they needed.
Even though God punished Adam and Eve, He still loved them, and they wanted to love Him.
Draw your students’ attention to the word “offering.”
This word tells us about one way Bible people showed their love for God. Read the definition
Our Bible story takes place after Adam and Eve left the garden. But it still takes place in the first book of the Bible, Genesis.
In today’s Bible story we’ll hear about the offerings Cain and Abel gave to God. Listen carefully to find out which offering pleased God and what happened to Cain.
Read the story and pause where indicated for the children to read the marked Bible verses.
God told Adam and Eve they could eat from any tree except the one in the middle of the garden. But they disobeyed God and ate from the forbidden tree.
Because of their sin, God punished them and made them leave their beautiful home. For the rest of their lives, they would have to work to have food and a place to live.
They couldn’t walk with God in the garden anymore, but they didn’t forget God. He didn’t forget them, either. God still loved them and took care of them.
After a while, Adam and Eve had two sons. The oldest boy’s name was Cain. When Cain grew up, he became a farmer.
- What do farmers do? (They dig in the fields, plant seeds, and grow plants for food.)
The other boy’s name was Abel. He became a shepherd.
- What do shepherds do? (They take care of sheep by making sure the sheep have plenty of grass to eat and water to drink.)
As Cain and Abel grew up, they worked very hard at their jobs, but with God’s help the plants and the sheep grew well.
One day Cain decided to give an offering to God. He gathered some grain and plants from his fields and gave them to God as an offering.
Abel also brought an offering for God. Abel carefully chose the very best lamb in his flock. Then Abel gave that lamb to God as an offering.
God was pleased with Abel’s offering.
Ask the children to read Genesis 4:5 aloud together.
God was not pleased with Cain’s offering. Cain did not show he was truly thankful for all God’s help and did not sincerely believe God.
When God accepted Abel’s offering but not Cain’s, Cain grew angry and jealous.
God spoke to Cain: “Why are you so angry, Cain? If you do what is right, I will be pleased with you. But if you keep on doing wrong, I must punish you.”
Cain did not listen to God’s warning. Cain was jealous of his brother because Abel pleased God and he didn’t.
Each time Cain thought about what happened, he grew angrier. After a while, Cain asked Abel to come with him to his field. When they were alone in the field, Cain killed his brother, Abel.
Cain didn’t think anyone saw what he did. He thought no one would know he killed Abel.
A little while later God called to Cain. “Where is Abel, your brother?” God asked him.
“I don’t know,” Cain lied. “Am I supposed to take care of my brother all the time?”
“What are you saying!” God cried. “I know you killed Abel, so you must be punished.”
Have the children read Genesis 4:12 to learn Cain’s punishment.
God told Cain, “You must leave your home and your fields. From now on nothing you plant will grow, and you will be forced to move from place to place.”
Cain was very upset when he heard this. He didn’t want to leave his home, and he was afraid people would try to kill him if they found out what he had done to Abel.
Even though Cain had done a terrible thing, God still loved him. God told Cain no one would kill him; then God put a special mark on Cain so everyone who saw him would know they should not kill him.
Cain was sad about leaving home. God was sad too, but Cain chose not to obey God.
Write each sentence from the maze on Cain’s Choice Activity Sheet on a slip of paper before class.
As a class, read through the strips. Decide which strips are true and which are false. Put the true strips in the correct order on the board. Students can work through the activity sheet on their own.
Cain didn’t feel happy when he disobeyed God. And Cain got angry when God tried to correct him. He didn’t want to do what was right.
In the end, Cain was even unhappier than when he first did wrong. But we don’t have to be that way. We can learn from our mistakes and we can choose to obey God.
For extra emphasis on this story, use the Optional Activity below.
Let students take turns telling something about one of the brothers in the Bible story. The rest of the class should try to identify the brother and tell whether or not he obeyed God.
- He was a farmer. (Cain, no.)
- He was a shepherd. (Abel, yes.)
- He gave God the best gift he could. (Abel, yes.)
- He did not listen to God’s warning. (Cain, no.)
- God accepted his offering (Abel, yes.)
- God did not accept his offering. (Cain, no.)
- He killed his brother. (Cain, no.)
- He had to go away from home. (Cain, no.)
Hand out the Two Children Are Disciplined Activity Sheet to each student.
This page will help them understand Proverbs 3:11 more clearly.
Read the title with your students. Explain that two of the children in this picture have done something wrong, and now they are being disciplined.
Read the speech balloons and ask students what the two children may have done wrong. (The boy may have hit or thrown a ball through the window; the girl may have ridden her bike in the street after her parents told her not to.)
Then read Proverbs 3:11 with your class.
Explain the meaning of unfamiliar words such as “despise” (to hate), “discipline” (to teach to do what is right, sometimes through a punishment), “resent” (to be unhappy and angry at someone or something because you feel he or it is unfair), and “correction” (to tell someone not to do something that is wrong).
Finally, discuss the questions below the memory verse:
- Which child is following Proverbs 3:11? Which child will probably do better next time? (The girl who is sorry. She realizes she needs to do better, and probably will next time.)
Read Proverbs 3:11 together. Then let volunteers try to say the verse from memory.
When God disciplines us, it’s one way He says “I love you.”
Your students will discuss some ways that God’s corrections are helpful to them.
Our Bible verse says “My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline and do not resent his rebuke.”
God can discipline us in many ways. One is through adults in our lives who care for us even when we do wrong. Let’s read about a girl named Kayla and what happened to her one day.
Hand out the Kayla & the Candy Activity Sheet to each student.
Read the story on this page with your class. Then have your students complete the sentences by circling the correct word or phrase.
You can discuss the correct answers with your class by using questions like these:
- How do we know Kayla’s mother cared about her? (Her mother showed that she loved Kayla by wanting to know that she was safe.)
- Why should Kayla obey her mother? (God wants children to obey their parents; parents know what’s best; Kayla could have been hurt; she might have gotten lost.)
- Who are other adults that God may put in our lives? (Children should name adults that may correct them such as teachers, coaches, school administrators, extended family members, and church family members.)
Remind students that their parents and other adults care for their well-being even when they have done something wrong.
It is best to obey, but they should not be scared to tell their parents if they make a mistake or have an accident.
Also, remind them that their well-being is more important than any broken promise or lie. Listen carefully if your students disagree. They may have a home situation that deserves special attention.
Your students will plan to ask for forgiveness when they do wrong.
- How do you feel when you do something bad? (Let students briefly share how they felt the last time they did something bad. Did God send someone to correct them, or did He help them feel sorry about what they did?)
- When we do something wrong, who is the first One we need to ask for forgiveness? (God.)
- If we did something to hurt someone else, who else do we need to ask for forgiveness? (The person you have wronged.)
- What are some good things we can do when we’re sorry for doing wrong? (Tell God—and the person you wronged—you are sorry; try to make things right again; ask God for help to obey Him the next time.)
All of us do bad things; but no matter what we do, God never stops loving us.
He loves us so much that He reminds parents and teachers and friends to show us when we do things that are wrong. And if we’re sorry, God forgives us and helps us do the right thing the next time.
Distribute the Slip-Up Slips to your students. Then show students a sample project you assembled before class.
Have students assemble the Slip-Up Slips according to the directions on the back of the project.
Encourage the students to begin thinking about who they might need to give a Slip-up Slip to this week.
If there is someone in the class that they need to give the slips to, perhaps a teacher or another student, encourage them to fill out a slip now and humbly present it to the person they wronged.
What a wonderful way to practice love and humility.
Encourage the children to use the rest of the Slip-Up Slips during the week as needed.
Close your class time with a short prayer. You can ask a student volunteer to pray or use the following sample prayer.
Dear God, we’re sorry we sometimes do wrong. But we’re happy You will always love us, correct us, and forgive us when we ask You to. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
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Reach Every Student, Every Age and Every Day
Echoes Elementary consists of age-appropriate lessons that match the growing independence and responsibility of elementary students—especially their capacity to apply Bible truths and more deeply grasp the love of God.