Absent Application:

With or without curriculum, Christian workers present their students with incredible Bible stories and activities to teach them God’s word. Teaching the Bible is good because hearing the word of God builds faith. Hebrews 11:1-3 KJV says, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” The Holy Bible tells us the source of faith saying, “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Romans 10:17 KJV) But teaching and learning does not stop at only hearing the message.

In Philippians 4:9 KJV, the apostle Paul wrote, “Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.” Taking the knowledge we have learned and, by faith, applying it to our life in a practical and useful way is what I call “application.” If we don’t apply the Biblical knowledge we learn to our daily lives, “What good is it? What does it accomplish?”

James understood this when he penned the small but practical book of the Bible saying, “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.” (James 1:22-25 KJV) So God blesses those who hear the word, get faith, and do what His word tells us to do.

As Christian workers who love God and others, we should desire that our students learn God’s word, grow in faith, and put that faith into action by doing what God says. We want our students to grow in faith and be blessed by God.

Some Bible curriculum provide a lot of lesson plans and resources for teachers but fail to provide ideas for activities that teach students how to apply the lessons they learn to their own, personal lives.

As teachers we need to make sure we teach our students how to “put into practice” the things they learn. Without living out or “practicing” what we are taught, we cannot be an example for others, nor will we be able to grow our faith. Jesus is the foundation upon which our faith is built. We need to have a relationship with Him. Without that relationship, our faith is shallow, and consists mostly from works we do in our flesh.

We cannot work our way to heaven by doing “religious acts or works.” God’s gift of salvation is given to us freely only because of the work Jesus did on the cross, and the righteousness He imputed to us after He paid the penalty for our sins. It is Christ’s righteousness that gets us in to heaven, not our fleshly works.

After we have received God’s gift of salvation, the love He puts in our hearts compels us to do works—not to earn salvation—but to bring pleasure to God. Choosing to follow God and put His word into practice in our lives brings God pleasure. As teacher’s we can give our students examples of loving God and/or bringing Him pleasure. We can teach them Jesus’ command to love one another and show them examples of how they can love someone else. Jesus even commands us to love our enemies.

Multitudes of examples of loving others surround us every day. Some examples could be visiting someone in the hospital, caring for the sick person at home, running an errand for an elderly person who can’t do it for themselves, and even all the selfless acts that mothers and fathers do as they take care of their families. When I see fathers and mothers who devote their lives to taking care of large families, some even teaching their children at home, I am amazed at how much selfless love they devote to those around them. Sadly, many of them receive little or no thanks for doing it. But God sees the hearts of those parents, and if they receive God’s gift of salvation, they will also receive their just reward when they get to heaven.

As teachers, we should all want our students to know how to respond to God’s word, especially the lessons we teach them. Therefore we need to show the application of every lesson so our students will see how to live the life God desires from them and us.

We can’t change the hearts of our students; nor can we make them practice what they learn in their own lives. But we can give them experiences and examples to show how to apply what they learn to their lives. We also need to pray that The Holy Spirit will reveal the word of God to them.

We know, that in God’s word, He says we can ask for anything according to His will and know that it will be done. It may not happen in our life time, but we know God keeps His promises.

One example of loving others from a lesson that I taught on authority helped the students to know who their church authority figures were, and to face the fear of approaching them. The lesson began with defining authority and learning how to tell the difference between good and bad authority. We talked about God giving us rules to live by and identified some authority figures in our homes, schools, communities, government, and churches.

During activity time each student made and colored “Thank you” cards for the elders in our church. Then the students were instructed to hand-deliver the cards to one of the elders before service began. As I pointed out the elders to the children, the students gave them cards they made.  When each card was delivered, the child had to face the fear of meeting a church leader. This was a good opportunity to teach the students how to love and obey church authority, and overcome the fear of talking with them.

At first, the leaders were a little surprised and didn’t understand what was happening. However, when they saw the great big “Thank You” and the coloring of primary students on the front of the card, they chuckled and thanked the children. I believe the church leaders were blessed by the activity as well.

Hearing God’s word and not putting it into practice is like trying to have a love relationship with someone you never contact or speak with—the words may be said in your mind, but unless you reach out and tell the person you care about that you love them, it does no good. Love without action is dead, and learning God’s word without application yields little or no benefit in our lives.

For me, a creative person, activity time seemed to be the ideal time to teach the students the lesson application. If the curriculum I used didn’t have an application activity, I came up with one myself. Fun activities that teach principles will help the students remember the lessons better because they had a meaningful “experience” as part of their lesson. If a student has some “experience” or “visual” picture implanted in their memory, they will more likely remember the activity and the lesson principle they were taught.

In the gospel of Luke, Jesus illustrates the principle of not hearing but not doing in a parable saying, “But he that heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built a house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great.” (Luke 6:49 KJV)

In conclusion, Christian workers, whether you are a curriculum designer or writer, a Pastor or teacher, or a lay person teaching the Bible to one or more people, you need to make sure your students learns how to apply the things you teach them to their daily life and walk with God. Application is a vital part of every Bible teaching.