It was a sunny Saturday afternoon. Ruthie was bored.
"Let's go to the zoo," she suggested to her two smaller brothers. "We can ask Mom if she will walk up there with us."
It was fun living so close to the big park and zoo. It took only ten minutes to walk there from home. Soon, Ruthie, Brian, and Stevie arrived at the zoo. They each ran to watch a favorite animal. Stevie liked the otter best. Ruthie enjoyed watching the tiny groundhogs going in and out of their network of tunnels. They could disappear so fast and then suddenly appear at the other side of their small mound.
"Look over here!" exclaimed Brian. He was standing by Bill's cage. Bill was Brian's favorite animal, an ornery old chimpanzee who was always grumpy.
The three children watched as the zookeeper fed the old animal and the other chimp who shared the cage. He put the food on the floor of the big cage. Bill acted like he was afraid that the other chimp would get part of the food. Bill grabbed as much as he could as fast as he could. He stuffed an apple into his mouth, jammed two bananas under one arm and a big bunch of carrots under the other. Then he ran over to the food by the other chimp and grabbed a loaf of bread with one hand. Just as he was about to pick up a bunch of grapes with the other, he noticed a piece of lettuce the other chimp was holding. The greedy animal snatched the lettuce, slapping it on the top of his head. Then he picked up the grapes and ran to the corner of his cage, starting to eat even while he ran.
How the children laughed!
"Look at him," said Ruthie. "He is so selfish he can't even enjoy eating, his mouth is so full. He just had to have it all, even the food that belonged to the other chimp in there!"
Just then Mom came over to where the children were. They pointed to old Bill sitting alone in the corner, looking around to see if there was any more food he could grab. "Look how unhappy Bill is," said Ruthie. "That's a good example of coveting. He wants things only for himself."
"That's right," said Mom. ''And if you ever think that in order to be happy you must have something that isn't yours, just remember old Bill. Jesus teaches us that we must be content with what we have. Let's learn a lesson from this greedy old chimp!"
In this lesson, we will learn that God's Word very clearly instructs us that we are not to covet or take that which does not belong to us.
To reinforce this thought in your child's mind, invent a fictional character named "Stealing Sam" who comes to visit your family from time to time. (Make up another name if you have a real Sam in the family.) Give him characteristics such as hair color, age, etc. His one outstanding character flaw is that he wants things that belong to others, and sometimes takes them. With the help of your children and spouse, make up stories about Stealing Sam. These stories can become a regular part of traveling times, family times, and bedtimes. Keep them short—one incident per story—but make them as vivid as possible.
At the end of each story, discuss: Why does he want what belongs to others? Why does he steal? What happens when he steals? What might have happened if he had not stolen? How can Sam be helped?