To help your child understand what it means to have no other gods before God.
Before starting this lesson, we recommend you look up these scriptures on your own and familiarize yourself with them. We’ve included notes about how they connect with this lesson, but we’ll leave it up to you to decide when and how to best introduce them to your child.
Psalm 20:7-9 – An example of trusting in things (horses and chariots) instead of God. Only God can lift us up and stand us upright.
Exodus 12:12 – God explains that His plagues were also judgments against the gods of Egypt. For every plague, there was an Egyptian god that (supposedly) should have been able to stop it or reverse it. But, in reality, only God had that power.
Isaiah 44:6-8; 46:9-10 – “Is there a God besides Me? Indeed there is no other Rock; I know not one.” God knows the beginning and the end, and He has the power to make it all happen.
Matthew 10:29-31 – God knows every hair on our heads; His great power is coupled with His great love for us. When we put (and keep) God first in our life, we don’t need to be afraid of anything.
Matthew 6:33-34 – Seeking the Kingdom of God and His righteousness needs to be our top priority. If it is, God will take care of everything else we need.
Matthew 6:24 – We can’t serve two masters. (The Israelites tried to serve both God and Baal in 1 Kings 18:21 .)
Revelation 21:7 – God wants us to be part of His family—but that doesn’t work if we’re serving other gods too.
No room for rocks!
Five or more flat, smooth rocks large enough to write a word or two on
A sticker or label with the word TRUST on it
A clear, unbreakable container big enough to hold five or more of the rocks
A pitcher of water
A small basin or pie tin (to catch water that spills and overflows)
Give your child some markers and some flat rocks. Ask your child to write something that makes him or her feel happy, safe or important on each rock. (Three to five rocks should be plenty, but feel free to let your child write down as many ideas as he or she wants.)
As your child works on the rocks, ask about the concepts he or she is choosing to write down. What about these concepts makes your child feel happy, safe or important?
As your child finishes writing, place the clear container inside the basin so he or she can easily see it.
Read or summarize the following:
A long time ago, people believed in many different gods. They believed there were gods who made the sun rise, gods who took care of the rivers, gods who helped food grow, gods who kept people safe from poisonous creatures, gods who healed the sick—all sorts of gods.
People trusted those gods to take care of them. They thought those gods would keep them safe and make them happy. But those gods weren’t real. They were pretend. They couldn’t do anything.
When God gave the 10 Commandments, His very first rule was about those pretend gods. Let’s look at our copy of the 10 Commandments and see what it says.
Review: Look at the list of the 10 Commandments you made with your child in the previous lesson. Have your child read (or help him or her read) the First Commandment: “You shall have no other gods before Me.”
At this point, fill the clear, unbreakable container all the way to the top with water. Put the TRUST label on the container.
Continue reading or summarizing:
God wants us to trust Him. He promises to take care of us and protect us and to give us good things, but His very first rule says He has to be the only God in our lives—we can’t have any pretend gods.
We don’t believe in those pretend gods from a long time ago, but we can still make up our own pretend gods. A pretend god is anything we trust to take care of us instead of the real God.
This water is like our trust in God. When it’s the only thing in the container, that means we trust only God to take care of us. That’s what God wants. He wants to be the most important thing in our lives, because He’s the only one strong enough to take care of us.
He promises to take care of us and protect us and to give us good things, but His very first rule says He has to be the only God in our lives—we can’t have any pretend gods.
All these things you wrote on your rocks, they’re good things! There’s nothing wrong with any of these.
But what happens when we decide these rocks are just as important as God? Or if we decide that we can trust them to take care of us too?
Ask your child to start dropping his or her rocks in the container one by one. Ask your child what’s on each rock and comment on it. (Example: “So with this rock, we might be saying, ‘God, I trust you to help me, but I also trust my allowance/my friends/my books/etc.’ or ‘God, you’re important to me, but maybe a little less important than my favorite TV show.’”)
As your child continues to drop rocks into the container, ask what’s happening to the water. When he or she remarks that it’s spilling out, explain that’s how trusting God works.
Note: Your child may have chosen to write “Mom” or “Dad” on his or her rocks. In this case, when you read the section below, it’s important to emphasize that even though trusting you is a good thing, you still aren’t as strong or as wise as God. It should be clear to your child that you have to trust God too—that you can’t stand in His place.
Continue reading or summarizing:
We don’t have room to completely trust God to take care of us—and trust our ______ [allowance, toys, friends—whatever your child has put on his rocks]. When we treat other things like we treat God, there’s not enough room in the container, and we replace some of our trust in God with trust in things—pretend gods.
These rocks are okay to have, but we need to keep them outside of the container. We can’t trust them like we trust God.
Finish by having your child remove the rocks from the container and observing how much water spilled out in the process. Refill the container with water and remind your child that God loves us and He will always help us refill our trust in Him when we take away the pretend gods.
Make it your own
Here are some ways to personalize or modify this activity:
Gather in advance: Consider having your child help you search for the rocks sometime before the lesson—it might help build excitement or interest. (Tell him or her the rocks are for the lesson, but that he or she will have to wait to find out why.)
Show, don’t tell: As an alternative to writing on the rocks, your child might enjoy drawing pictures instead.
Brainstorm: If your child is having trouble thinking of things to put on the rocks, you can always help by making suggestions or asking him or her questions about favorite things. (Possibilities include: allowance, books, TV, video games, toys, friends, etc.)
Backstory: If you want to expand or supplement this lesson, you can incorporate our illustrated 10 Plagues of Egypt chart (which you can find in our Additional Resources section) to help your child see how the 10 plagues showed that Egypt’s gods were nothing compared to God.
After refilling the container with water, take some time to chat with your child about the activity and about putting God first. Here are some open-ended questions you can use to start a discussion (and some hints to get your child thinking about the answers).
Remember, these questions are just suggestions. Feel free to use the ones you think would work best for your family (and come up with some of your own). You know your child best—the important thing is coming up with questions that will get him or her talking and thinking.
Question: Why do you think God wants us to be close to Him?
Hint: Remind your child that God loves us and wants what’s best for us. If we make other things more important than Him, we aren’t showing Him that we trust Him to take care of us.
Question: What kinds of things can we do to make sure we treat God like the most important thing in our lives?
Hint: There are actions we can take and priorities we can have. We can read our Bibles and pray to Him, and we can also plan to do those things before doing all the other things we might want to do.
Question: How do you think it makes God feel when we put other pretend gods before Him?
Hint: There’s no “right answer” to this question—it’s a chance for your child to think about what God’s perspective might be like. Does He get sad that we don’t trust Him completely? Is it frustrating to see us trust false gods? Does it hurt our relationship with Him?
Question: How does putting God first make us stronger?
Hint: Remind your child that spending more time with God means we’ll be closer to Him. If we’re closer to Him, we’ll know Him better, and He’ll be more involved in our lives. And “If God is for us, who can be against us?” Romans 8:31 .
If you’d like to dig deeper into the First Commandment (either on your own or with your child), here are some helpful resources from Life, Hope & Truth to get you started:
Further Your Study
The 10 Commandments
The 10 Commandments are a key to loving God and loving our neighbors. They’re also essential to living good, happy lives. Our "Commandments" series gives an overview of what the 10 Commandments are and why they are important. Read More >
10 Commandments Puzzles
Use our 10 Commandments puzzle templates to engage children of all ages in learning about God’s important laws. Read More >
The 10 Plagues of Egypt
Enjoy this illustrated chart and fill in details about the devastating plagues that struck Egypt before the Israelites’ deliverance from slavery. Makes a great Passover or Feast of Unleavened Bread activity for your children. Read More >