Work Rewards (Sunday School Lesson for Kids)

Small Group Study / Produced by partner of TOW
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This lesson is part of God's Story of Work for Kids, a 12-week curriculum that teaches children to see work through God's perspective.

MAIN IDEA: God will reward our work and the best is yet to come.


  • 1 object for each of these materials: gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw (if hard to obtain, show a picture)
  • box of matches
  • 2 drinking glasses
  • a gold or silver object you're willing to burn (could be a small piece of jewelry)
  • a small clump of hay or a piece of wood


Leader: God is all around us and in the work you do every day. The work you do matters today - it shapes you and it affects the people around you. Also, the work you do in your life will matter on the special day when Jesus returns.

I have a bunch of items here. (Explain what each item is and what it's made from.) Can someone come up and organize them in the order of most value? (Invite a student to do this. Ask why they put the things in the order they did.) Some of these materials cost a lot more than others. That's because they last longer.

Optional Experiment: Place a gold or silver object in one uncovered glass. Place the dry hay or dry wood in the other uncovered glass. Light a match and drop it into each cup.

If a fire happened, wood, hay or straw would burn up and become ashes. But the gold, silver and precious stones would still be sitting there when the flames die away. They can endure incredibly high temperatures.

The Bible compares our work to these things. Work that endures is work that we do with faith, hope and love. When you clean your room or take care of your brother or sister with love, it's like gold. As you work with faith, hope and love, you become more enduring yourself, more like Jesus. You can endure tough situations with character and caring. When you work with faith, hope and love you become like gold yourself.

When we work without faith, hope and love, that work is like wood hay or straw - it doesn't last very long and doesn't have much value. Let's take a look at the Bible passage.


Read aloud or ask a child to stand and read for the group.

1 Corinthians 3:12-15

Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw - the work of each builder will become visible, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each has done. If what has been built on the foundation survives, the builder will receive a reward. If the work is burned up, the builder will suffer loss; the builder will be saved, but only as through fire.

These verses show us that God cares about the work we do. The word "foundation" in verse 12 refers to Jesus. All the work we do is built on who Jesus is and what he has done for us. As we follow Jesus in doing our work for him with faith, hope and love, it's like building a house using solid materials - gold, silver, and precious stones.

The "Day" mentioned in verse 13 is the Judgment Day when Jesus returns. One day, Jesus promises that he will return. Revelations, the last book of the Bible, tells us that when Jesus returns the work of each of our lives will be tested by fire. Our actions, small or big, our attitudes, our words, our thoughts - our entire life and how we lived it -matters to God and will be tested to see if it's hay or gold.

Depending on this test, the Bible mentions two kinds of crowns that God will award. The first, written as stephanos in Greek, is a crown of victory such as those made of laurel leaf and given to Olympic athletes. This kind of crown was given to those who overcame difficult situations. The other kind of crown is called a diadem -and is the type of crown worn by kings. Some people will receive this crown for all the souls they led to know God. Daniel 12:3 says, "Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever." Then the biggest best party will begin with Jesus presents to God all of the people who followed him. The people will throw all the crowns they earned at Jesus' feet in adoration of him. In this way, our work becomes worship even to the very end of time.

We don't know the date for when Jesus will return. But we do know that our work matters very much to God.

We all have things we don't enjoy doing. Next time you start folding laundry or doing homework and want to groan, remember that God's in it. What you're doing is holy when you do it with faith, hope and love. Your work counts for eternity. One day God will say to you, "Well done."


Leader: God, it's amazing that the work we do - even ordinary things like folding laundry - matters to you. Help us become aware of your presence in all things and grow in doing small and big work with faith, hope and love. Shape us to become more like you as we do. In Jesus' name, amen.

Work Rewards (Classroom Activity for Grades 2-5)

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This lesson is part of God's Story of Work for Kids, a 12-week curriculum that teaches children to see work through God's perspective.


OPENING ACTIVITY: Gold, stone, straw (7 MINUTES)

Teach kids the motions for God, Stones, Straw. The motions are:

  1. Gold: arms straight down, held tightly against each side
  2. Stones: both hands open with fingers wiggling to symbol "twinkling"
  3. Straw: arms straight up and hands clasped to look like a straight line

Review the meaning of each building material. Gold and stones both last through fire - these refer to work that is done for God with faith, hope and love. Stones are most likely referring to work that helps people come to believe in Jesus. Straw is work that doesn't last - it's not done for God.

Read a scenario from the list gold-stones-straw-scenarios.pdf. Kids jump into the pose that they think the scenario demonstrates.

WORKSHEET: 1 Corinthians 3:12-15 Study (15 MINUTES)

Read through the passage together out loud. Have students answer the questions on the worksheet building-my-life-worksheet.pdf. Gold and silver are purified by fire and precious stones are produced out of incredible environments of pressure and heat. Wood, hay and straw become ashes and disappear when burnt.

Review- Who can you think of in the bible that lived a life that was probably built with gold, silver and precious stones? Who can you think of in the Bible that lived a life built with straw, hay or wood?

letters to jesus (10 MINUTES)

This is the last session of the curriculum. Give each student a sheet of stationary, an envelope and a pen. If possible, play instrumental worship music in the background as students work. Invite them to write to Jesus. He sees each of them and loves them very much. Each of them brings joy to his heart. Ask them to take some time to write a letter to Jesus about 3 things:

  • Their favorite kind of work
  • The work they find hardest
  • The kind of life they want to build

Thave them seal their letters and hold them in closing prayer.


Pray a blessing over each student individually. Ask God to lead them in a life built with gold, silver and precious stones, by the power of his Holy spirit.

Work Rewards (Take-Home Activity for Parents and Kids)

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This lesson is part of God's Story of Work for Kids, a 12-week curriculum that teaches children to see work through God's perspective.

THIS WEEK'S FOCUS: GOD will reward our work

We reviewed today that all of our work - small and big, ordinary and special - matters very much to God. We learned that one day Jesus will return and test the quality of our work and the lives we have lived. Some lives will show they were built with solid materials that survive fire - gold, silver and costly stones. Other lives will be revealed to be made out of wood, hay or straw, things that get burned up in the fire. We work for Jesus with faith, hope and love so that our lives become more like gold.

DO THIS WEEK'S WORKOUT: thank you party

Plan a party to celebrate the work and uniqueness of each person in your family.

Some ideas:

  • Have each person make a dish that another family member likes
  • Personalize each place setting with not just the person's name, but the kind of work they do and a big "THANK YOU!"
  • Make crowns for everyone to wear
  • Use gold colored plates as a symbol of the value of each person's work done with faith, hope and love
  • Pray a prayer of blessing over everyone and their work before you eat - personalize the prayer and make it special by praying for each person specifically
  • Talk about the past 12 weeks and what you learned or what you want to keep practicing
  • Serve some sparkling apple cider and make a toast to each person and their work
  • Make it a team party - everyone helps set up, everyone helps clean up
  • Print the examen-guide.pdf for each family member.
  • Once the quiet time is over, gather together and share 1 sentence each of something you sensed from God.


  • What moment today made you most happy or thankful? (Initially you may need to name a few things in a young child's day to help them catch on.)
  • What moment today made you the most unhappy or least grateful?
  • How did you show love today? (For very young children, you may offer suggestions to clarify how someone shows love: Who did you share with today? Who did you help today?)
  • What was one time your actions or behavior were negative or you withheld showing kindness? (Again, for young children you might ask: Was there a time you did not share today? Was there a time you said a hurtful word or did not help?)
  • Briefly give thanks fo rthis time of reflection and for God teaching each of you to be more loving.