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Helping Children Understand Sin

Talking to kids about sin doesn’t have to be too serious. Use this simple spring-time object lesson to make a lasting impression.

I was weeding with my daughter the other day and found myself answering these questions over and over again: “Is this a weed?” “Is this a weed?”

In the spring time, when the plants are just popping up above the surface of the soil, to an untrained eye, it can be hard to spot the difference between a weed and a plant.

It occurred to me that sin and weeds have a lot in common.

The Importance of Claiming the Mundane

One of the greatest thrills I get as a Christian parent is being able to make God’s word come alive for my kids. The Bible is not just some dusty, old history book; it is a living, life-giving thing that can penetrate and shape our hearts if we let it. Turning every day events into mini character-building opportunities is very exciting. If we have eyes to see, these opportunities abound.

Set the Stage

If you are a gardener or have access to a park, playground or soccer field, you can have this following interchange with your kids.

While looking at a patch of grass (or a garden bed), ask your kids to point out the weeds. Discuss how to tell the difference between the weeds and the plants or grass. What do they think should be growing there instead?

Next, try and pull up a weed. Discuss if it was hard or easy. What would make it easier? (soft ground, right tools). What happens if the top is pulled off, but the root is left in the ground? (it grows back).

Explain that full-grown plants create seed heads which are carried by the wind or birds to make more of the same type of plant (a dandelion is a fun example of this). Weeds that are not pulled up or cut back will make more. Explain that when we add fertilizer, compost or organic matter, we make the soil healthy and keep the weeds at bay.

You can also tell them that the presence of some weeds reflects a weakness in the soil (for example, clover means a lack of nitrogen). Older kids may have fun researching this information on line.

Bring it Back to God

While this is a fun science discussion, the real spiritual growth happens when we claim these types of every day discussions for the Lord. You can ask:

  • How are weeds in the ground and sin in our hearts alike?
  • What kinds of weakness in the “soil” of our hearts does sin reveal?
  • What can we do to make the “soil” of our hearts healthier to prevent sin from taking root?
  • Which is a better way to get rid of weeds and sin permanently? Pulling up or cutting back?
  • What happens if we let the sins in our hearts “go to seed”?
  • What are some good tools to “pull out” the sins in our lives?
  • What happens if we get tired or too busy to pull out the weeds or take care of the lawn or gardens? What will happen in our hearts if we tire of staying on top of our sins?
  • Are we ever going to be free from sin? (a quick look at any lawn will reveal that answer!)
  • What can we do to the soil of our hearts to make sure that sin does not find a friendly home?
  • Who is the One who has forgiven us for every single sin?

Take a moment to read and discuss Luke 8:4-8:

“While a large crowd was gathering and people were coming to Jesus from town after town, he told this parable: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path; it was trampled on, and the birds ate it up. Some fell on rocky ground, and when it came up, the plants withered because they had no moisture. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up with it and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up and yielded a crop, a hundred times more than was sown.”

The next time you read the Bible together, talk about how you are “fertilizing” your hearts so that the fruits of the spirit will grow, rather than the weeds of sin.

The natural world provides so many opportunities for us to make connections between the every day and the spiritual. It is no wonder that Jesus used so many agricultural parables when He taught His followers.

What kind of every day situations have you “redeemed” for the sharing of the gospel? Please feel free to share your ideas in the comments section below!

[Photo credit: cohdra from]

This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for treatment from a qualified mental health professional. Cornerstones for Parents is not liable for any advice, tips, techniques, and recommendations the reader chooses to implement.

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About Laura

Laura Kuehn, LCSW

Laura is a licensed clinical social worker who offers individual therapy to women and moms in Connecticut. She is the author of More Than a Conqueror, A Christian Kid's Guide to Winning the War on Worry. Cornerstones for Parents is the place she combines some of the things she is most passionate about: God's word, parenting and mental health.

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