Published: January 17, 2024
This preteen Bible lesson is perfect for Valentine’s Day. In this lesson, kids experience conditional and unconditional love as they discover God’s love for us.
God’s love is infinite. Unconditional. Limitless. He’s the very definition of love. He showed the depth of his love by sending his Son as a sacrifice for our sins—the very thing that separated us from him. Is it possible for us to love others in the same way? It can be challenging to do so with those who frustrate us, hurt us, or are different from us.
The truth is, it’s impossible to show that kind of love to others through our own efforts. The only way to love others the way God loves us is through the power of the Holy Spirit. When we love God with all our heart, his care and affection shine through us and touches others. As you teach kids about loving others, encourage them by continually pointing back to the One who loved us first.
On One Condition
- small toys or trinkets (such as stickers or pencil toppers) (2 per preteen)
Welcome kids, and announce that you’ve brought a special treat.
Have kids form two lines. Alternating between lines, ask kids to step forward one at a time to get a treat. Randomly ask some of the kids to do something to get the treat, such as sing a song or do jumping jacks. Other times, just give the treat freely. Be sure not to do the same thing for each line; change it up so kids don’t know what to expect.
After everyone has had a turn, have kids sit down.
- What was this experience like for you?
- What was it like when you had to work for your treat?
- Are there things people do to make their friends work for the treat of their friendship—instead of just giving friendship? Explain.
Say: It might seem strange to set up conditions for a friendship, but we sometimes do this to one another. I have another toy to share. This time, though, you don’t have to do anything at all to get it.
Give each person a small toy.
- Explain why you think we sometimes put conditions on giving our love or friendship.
- Describe the conditions, if any, you think God puts on his love for us.
Say: Today we’re going to discover what the Bible says about God’s unconditional love.
Do the Math
Have kids form pairs, and give each pair a sheet of paper, a pen, and a Bible. Then read aloud 1 Peter 1:22.
Say: We’re going to do a quick Bible study. I’m going to give each pair a different word from this verse. Partners will work together to come up with synonyms—words that mean the same thing as the word I give you. You’ll have two minutes to write as many words as you can come up with.
Give each pair one of these words (it’s okay for multiple pairs to have the same word): cleansed, sins, obeyed, sincere, love, deeply.
After two minutes, call kids together. Ask each pair to tell how many words they came up with. Congratulate everyone for their work.
Once again, read aloud 1 Peter 1:22 below and pause where indicated to let kids fill in their synonyms.
“You were cleansed (pause) from your sins (pause) when you obeyed (pause) the truth, so now you must show sincere (pause) love to each other as brothers and sisters. Love (pause) each other deeply (pause) with all your heart.”
- What did the words you came up with teach you about what this verse means?
- What did our Bible study tell you about how God wants us to love one another?
- Tell about a time you felt this sincere kind of love from someone.
Say: The Bible tells us to love each other; and sometimes that might seem like a challenge.
Filled With Love
- uninflated balloons (1 per preteen)
- slips of paper (1 per preteen)
Balloon Warning! To avoid choking hazards, be sure to pick up pieces of any broken balloons promptly. Balloons may contain latex.
Show kids a deflated balloon.
- What stopped this balloon from fulfilling its purpose?
- What stops you from loving others the way God wants you to?
Say: A deflated balloon doesn’t do much or serve its purpose very well. Our hearts are the same way. When we don’t fill ourselves with God’s love, we’re empty and aren’t able to love others the way God wants us to.
- What are ways we can fill our hearts with God’s love?
As kids offer answers, inflate the balloon. Explain to kids that this is like what happens to our hearts when we accept God’s unconditional love and love others the same way.
Give everyone a slip of paper, a pen, and an uninflated balloon. On the slips of paper, have kids each write one way they can show God’s love to someone this week. When everyone is done, have kids each roll up their slip of paper and put it inside their balloon. Have kids inflate and tie off the balloons.
Pray: Dear God, thank you so much for loving us. You know everything about us—when we do right and when we do wrong—and you still love us unconditionally. Help us follow your example and love others as you love us. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Have kids toss their balloons in the air and let them fall to the ground. Then have kids each pick up the balloon closest to them. encourage them to take the balloon home, pop it, and complete the action on the slip inside for someone this week.
This preteen Bible lesson comes from 13 Most Important Bible Lessons for Kids About Loving Each Other. This resource contains 13 Bible-packed lessons that enable preteens experience, grasp, and embrace the fundamentals of their faith. You can also check out the full lesson set here! For even more preteen Bible lessons, check out these posts.
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