Key Scriptures: I Samuel 16:14-23, I Samuel 17:32-37, I Samuel 18:1-15, I Samuel18:16-17, I Samuel 19:1-2, I Samuel 19:4-7, I Samuel 19:9-17, I Samuel 24, Ephesians 4:29-32, Luke 6:31, John 13:34-35, Romans 12:10, Proverbs 24:17, I Peter 3:8-12, Philippians 2:4, I Peter 2:17, Romans 12:18, James 2:1-13, I Corinthians 13, Philippians 2:3, I John 3:18, I John 4:20, Hebrews 10:24, Luke 6:35-36, Matthew 5:44
Guiding Question: How does God want us to treat other people?
Optional Introductory Activity: Have students read various comments on their social media feeds that refer to others in some way. The comments can be positive or negative, but should reflect a comment that would cause emotions in the person or people to whom it refers (Remind them you don’t want posts with profanity shared.). Ask students what emotions the person or people being discussed might feel if they read those posts. Do they think that was what the writer wanted to accomplish? What might other people reading that post think about the person who wrote it? If they met the writer in real life, how would they already view him or her based on the posts?
Lesson: (Questions for students are in bold italics.) If we say someone has great people skills, what do we usually mean? In the Bible, we don’t find the term “people skills”. What we do find are lots of stories and passages explaining how God wants us to treat other people. In God’s definition of people skills, we would probably see a list of all of the ways He tells us He wants us to treat others. Sometimes, God’s instructions are given as the positive things we are to do. In other passages, we learn how God doesn’t want us to act towards others.
We read about a lot of different people in the Bible who lived over a span of several thousand years. Some were trying to be godly and treat people well, while others didn’t seem to care how they treated others. Perhaps one of the more interesting stories of someone who had ever changing people skills is the story of King Saul.
Read I Samuel 16:14-23. What clues does this give us about King Saul’s mental state? We aren’t quite sure what happened when the Spirit of the Lord would leave King Saul. We do know the name “Spirit of the Lord” refers to what we now call the Holy Spirit. Christians receive an indwelling of the Holy Spirit when they are baptized. In the Old Testament though, they weren’t baptized. So the Holy Spirit dwelled in people usually only in special circumstances. It makes sense the Holy Spirit might spend a lot of time dwelling in the King of Israel.
Unfortunately, as you may recall, King Saul tended to make some not so great choices. Which means he most likely ignored the Holy Spirit. We know Saul ignored God’s prophet Samuel. In fact. that is why right before this passage David had been anointed as the next King of Israel – Saul had disobeyed a command from Samuel, God’s prophet. It sounds as if perhaps whenever Saul ignored the Spirit and went against God’s commands, the Spirit left him for a time.
During these times, Saul became very agitated. David’s lyre playing seemed to be the only thing that could soothe him. In fact, what did King Saul do because of David’s lyre playing? How did he seem to be treating David at this point? In spite of the problems Saul was having with obeying God, do his people skills still seem to be healthy and godly?
Read I Samuel 17:32-37. How was King Saul treating David at this point? Were his concern and protectiveness godly ways to treat another person like David?
As time went on though, David became more and more popular with the people of Israel. In fact, they begin thinking of him as greater than King Saul. Read I Samuel 18:1-15. How does King Saul treat David now? What types of people skills does he exhibit or lack in this passage? What is Saul allowing to control how he treats David?
King Saul doesn’t stop there though. Read I Samuel 18:16-17 and 19:1-2. How does King Saul decide he will get control of the situation with David using his children? What people skills (or lack thereof) does he show with how he treats David? Michel? Jonathan?
Thankfully, people skills can be learned. We don’t have to treat others badly just because our parents might have. Read I Samuel 19:4-7. How does Jonathan try to get King Saul to treat David? Why do you think Jonathan has this conversation with his father? Does it seem to work? (verses 9-17)
What is our natural tendency when others treat us as badly as King Saul treated David? What would most people have done if they were David? We actually get a really clear picture of that in I Samuel 24. What is David’s attitude about how Saul should be treated?
If King Saul and David were competing for the position of king, whom would you choose for that position? Why? Why would how they treat other people be a factor in whether or not you chose one or the other to be King? None of us will probably have a chance to be a ruler over a kingdom, but yet our people skills are still important. Why?
Read John 13:34-35. Why does John says how we treat others is important? If we don’t consistently treat others in loving ways – if we have poor people skills – what might happen according to this passage? Why would that be a problem?
Loving one another can be a fairly ambiguous term in our world today. If we went out on the street and starting asking random people how we should treat one another – what people skills we should have – what would they say? Let’s take a look at some scriptures about how God wants us to treat others. (You may want to start a master class list of both the things God wants us to do and the things He tells us not to do in how we interact with others.) After reading each scripture, what are the things God either tells us to do or to avoid doing as we interact with other people?
- Ephesians 4:29-32 – build one another up, be kind, tenderhearted, forgiving, NO – bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor (causing a loud uproar usually in order to get your way, an obnoxious, loud way of trying to get what you want), slander, malice (evil intent, seeking to cause harm to someone else in some way)
- Luke 6:31 – do unto others what you would want them to do to you (Note: Although we usually talk about not doing bad things, this also implies we seek to do good things because that is what we would want others to do for us.)
- Romans 12:10 – love one another, outdo one another in showing honor
- Proverbs 24:17 – don’t rejoice when you enemy fails
- I Peter 3:8-12 – unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, tender heart, humble mind, don’t repay evil with evil but blessing
- Philippians 2:3-4 – don’t just look out for your own interests, but the interests of others, no rivalry or conceit
- I Peter 2:17 – honor everyone (Note: Including the Emperor, who would most likely have been Nero – considered to have been the most evil of all of the Caesars and later is thought to have ordered the execution of Peter.)
- Romans 12:18 – if possibly leave peaceably with all
- James 2 – don’t prefer rich over poor people
- I Corinthians 13 – details of what love “looks like” in action
- I John 3:18 – love not just in words, but in deeds
- I John 4:20 – can’t say we love God if we hate our brother
- Hebrews 10:24 – encourage each other to love and do good works
- Luke 6:35-36 – love enemies, expect nothing in return, be merciful (being kind, compassionate and patient with those who have wronged you)
- Matthew 5:44 – love enemies, pray for those who persecute you
Often when the world talks about having great people skills, they mean treating people well, too. However, their motivations for having great people skills are not always godly. What are some possible motivations for treating someone well – having great people skills – that aren’t very godly? (Possible answers may include manipulation, political reasons – trying to get ahead, etc.)
The world would also have us believe that we only need to treat people well who “deserve it”. Who are some people the world would say deserve for us to treat them well? What is the problem people who aren’t Christians may have when trying to make a list of people to treat well and people who don’t deserve being treated well? Looking back at the verses we just discussed, what is God’s view of who is to be treated well? Does He give us any excuse or reason we can use to treat others badly?
One of the most important things to remember, is that God cares about our hearts – not just about our words and actions. If we can somehow manage to do all of the things we found in those scriptures, but still hated certain people – would God be happy with us? Why or why not? So what do we as Christians need to remember when we think about our people skills, or how we treat others?
Having great people skills – treating people the way God wants them to be treated – while also loving them in our hearts – can be extremely difficult. God’s grace will cover Christians when we sin in these areas – if we ask forgiveness. Notice though that not one of these scriptures says, “Don’t worry about the fact that you still hate so ad so and treat him or her badly. God understands that person is a jerk, so just do the best you can.”
God always calls us to try and be more like Him. He wants us to be a more accurate reflection of Him to others so they too will want to become Christians. This means that for most of us we will need to keep working on being more like God in how we treat other people and how we feel about other people for the rest of our lives.
Skills Activity: Review the main parts of the lesson. Refer back to the master list the class created of the ways God wants us to treat other people (and the ways He doesn’t want us to treat other people).
The activity you choose to use will vary depending upon the needs of your students.
- For success oriented type students, share with them the article or points from the article from the Science of People on the people skills they believe people need to be “successful”. Compare their list to the list the class created. What are the differences? Why are the lists so different? Is everything on the list in the article going against what God wants us to do? How does the world define success?How does God define success? Why does God’s list reflect that definition more than the world’s? Would focusing only on the list of people skills God commands also achieve any objectives on the list in the article? Why or why not? If time allows, you may want to also spend time discussing which items in God’s list are difficult for them to do on a regular basis and come up with various strategies to help them be more godly in those areas.
- For students who are struggling with enemies or perceived enemies, spend time focusing mainly on the topic of how God wants us to treat those whom we might call our enemies. Depending upon the situation, you may want to focus on a more general discussion or role playing real life scenarios. Take as much time as they need to help them develop strategies for treating their “enemies” they way God wants them to treat them. You may want to mention scriptures we didn’t cover in this lesson. You may also want to go back to the stories of Jonathan and David. Jonathan and David both had the “right” to murder each other for control of the throne according to the cultures that surrounded them. Yet they loved each other like brothers. How were they able to love each other so deeply, when they were enemies by the standards of the world around them?
- For students who perhaps struggle more in general with treating people they way God wants them to do or for loving people in their hearts, you may want to spend more time in talking through specific scenarios they encounter that give them difficulties. Teens with special needs may need to run through some social scripts to practice more godly things to say and do in common situations. You may even have teens do a service project by writing and/or performing social scripts to help children and teens with special needs know how God wants them to think, speak and act towards others.
Application Challenge: Spend time reading back through the stories of Saul and David – especially the ones not covered in class. Now that you have studied other scriptures on the topic, what new things do you notice about the people skills of the various people in these stories? Would the stories have been different if everyone in them had made godly choices in how they treated one another? Think about ways in which you aren’t treating people in the ways God would want you to do. Focus on be more godly in your interactions and avoiding past poor choices in how you treat others.