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The Cheater's Cup

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Bible Text:

2 Timothy 2:5.

Materials You Need:

A clean and a dirty trophy or cup.

Age Group:

Grades 1 - 8 (7 to 14 years).

Theme:

You can't cheat like Abel did, as the only way to "win" Eternal Life is to live God's way.

 

Introduction:

Many schools have a cross country race at least once a year where the best runners compete.  The Bible reminds us in 2 Timothy 2:5 that:

"If anyone competes as an athlete, he does not receive the victor's crown (or prize),
unless he competes according to the rules.

The Cross Country Race:

Abel was excited, because he had been dreaming about winning the cross- country race for months.  But on the day before the race he began to have doubts.  He had seen the size of some the runners and how long their legs were.

That night he lay on his bed and pondered how it would be possible to win.  He felt he was too short and his legs were not strong enough. But, as he thought about it, an idea came into his head.  "Yes!  Now he knew how he could win!"

Next day he lined up with the runners and started running when the teacher fired the starting pistol.  But, do you know what?  He did not race to the front of the runners!  Oh no!  Instead they all passed him until he was coming last!

What's He Doing?

The cross-country course went up a hill, through a tree plantation, round a lake and then back past the trees again, and finished in the school grounds.  But, Abel did something strange.  He stopped in the trees ... and then hid behind one.  And then he sat down ... and rested?  Well, he must have given up knowing there's was no way that he could win the race.

But, he got up again, so maybe he had a stitch and now planned to finish the race even if he came last.  But, then he walked through the trees and stood behind one on the edge of the course.  Just then, the front runners appeared and as they ran past, Abel jumped out and started running behind them!

He's Going to Win?

As they entered the school grounds, Abel spurted ahead of the leaders and charged over the finishing line as the crowd yelled and cheered.  He was so proud - he had won the race!  He marched up to the trophy table with his head high.  On the table was a brand new shiny cup and he knew that it was his.

The Principal shook his head and to Abel's dismay he handed him a dirty old cup!  "But ..." he stuttered, "That other trophy is mine.  I won it.  Not this dirty old thing."

Found Out!

The Principal turned to the crowd and said, "One of our teachers was on duty and saw this boy stop in the trees and then creep over to the other side where the course returns to the school.  Abel re-joined the race so that he could win by cheating!  This cup I have given to him is the 'Cheater's Cup', and he deserves it!"

Abel crept away as the crowd booed him.  He stopped his ears as the crowd cheered as the real winner was presented the winning trophy.   For days after this, he would run away and hide as kids chanted as he walked past, "Cheater!  You're a big Cheater!"

A Change of Heart:

Some months later Abel was called to the office of the Athletic Coach.  The coach looked kindly at Abel and said to him, "I think you've learned your lesson.  I have watched you at sports time and you have a useful pair of legs on you.  If you practice hard, I think you will do very well in the race that is coming up."

Abel took his words to heart and began to practise every day.  He ran for long distances until he thought that he would drop.  At night his legs ached, but he was determined that he was going to win!

The Day of the Race:

At last the day of the race arrived and his heart pounded as he lined up with all the other runners.  The starting gun fired and they were off!  But this time Abel kept up with the leaders.  They went up the hill, through the trees, around the lake and back past the trees, but the leaders were huffing and puffing as they entered the school grounds.

With only 500 metres to go, Abel started running faster.  He was not tired!  All his training was paying off and the leaders fell behind as he ran with great strides in front of them.  He raced round the side of the school and saw the finishing line with crowds around it.

I've Won Fairly this Time!

The crowd began to cheer, but fell silent when they recognised him.  He was puzzled at the silence as he ran through the tape.  But, when the other runners came in the crowd began to cheer and a teacher named them: "First".... "Second" .... "Third" and then led them to the podium where the Principal waited.

He picked up the shiny cup and presented it to the first boy.  "No Sir, but I didn't win - Abel did!"  The crowd booed, but became quiet as the boy explained, "He ran all the way with us and when we entered the school grounds again he sprinted ahead of us and won fairly!"

The Winner's Cup!

The Principal turned to Abel, "Well done Abel, this time you have done it right!  Here's your cup - you deserve it and you ran very well!"  The crowd began to clap and then stood up to cheer as Abel proudly held the cup above his head.  His day was made when he saw the Athletic Coach smiling and nodding at him.

Abel never cheated again and went on to become the champion runner of his school.  He was no longer called a cheat and everybody became very proud of his achievements!

 

1.  Obey the Rules!

As Christians, we must run the race and obey the rules.  How?  Jesus wants us to love God and serve Him.  He also wants us to read our Bibles and pray every day.  Then, He wants us to care for others and tell them how Jesus died for our sins so that we can go to Heaven.   In 1 Corinthians 9:24-26, Paul said:

"Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize?
Run in such a way as to get the prize.
Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training.
They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.
Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly."

And so we need to read our Bibles and pray every day for God to guide and lead us in His will and ways.

2.  Keep Going!

We cannot stop and hide away.  Jesus said that He is with us all the time, even until the end of the world.  Sometimes it gets difficult.  Friends want us to go their way and do things that we know are wrong.  But, Jesus called us to be different and dare to trust Him.  This will keep us from doing bad things. And so we need to keep going every day seeking to serve and please God.

3.  You only Win at the Finishing Line!

Jesus said He would never leave us nor forsake us.  He wants us to keep on pleasing God in all we do.  He wants us to fill us with His love and power so that we can run a good race by living God's way.  And then one day we will be able to say with Paul:

"I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith.
Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness,
which the Lord, the Righteous Judge, shall give to me at that day;
and not to me only, but also to all them that have loved His appearing."

You can't cheat like Abel did.  The only way to "win" Eternal Life is to live God's way.  Winner or Cheater?  The choice is yours.   Let's pray.

God bless!
 

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