Care for the Little Ones
Holy Father, You are the God of the ages, the Savior of all who trust You. I wait in anticipation before You.
Read Matthew 18:10-14
Scripture taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, NIV Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“There were Ninety and Nine…” was sung often by George Beverly Shea (1909-2013). Listen to the hymn on YouTube.
The young, the elderly, the poor, the uneducated, the disabled, the eccentric… how do you treat people like these in your church? God has special concern for those to whom the world (we?) attribute little status (“little ones,” 10,14). In fact, God is always looking out for them.
The status challenge continues from earlier in the chapter (4). Here the familiar “lost sheep” story is not told in a mission context (as in Luke 15 with the other “lost” parables), but out of concern for pastoral care of the more vulnerable members of the believing community. Busy church leaders with large congregations may stop noticing the “little ones.” God doesn’t. What measures can we take to ensure in our attitudes and actions that we bring God’s love to those on the edge? Here the shepherd leaves the rest of the flock safely grazing and goes into the dangers of the outside world to search for a single “little one” who has wandered off (12). Stop worrying so much, Jesus seems to be saying, about those who are already safe and secure; instead, put yourself out there and accompany home the stumbling, immature, insecure, young in faith. God wants them safe with himself (14). Guardian angels had a strong presence in Jewish thinking (Acts 12:15). Jesus makes it clear that the representatives of “little ones” are constantly at work on their behalf in God’s presence (11).
Kingdom living? Do we ever “despise”–perhaps patronize–the little ones (10)? Those people whom we don’t feel are as important as us, or whose attention doesn’t flatter us? In the upside-down kingdom of God the first will be last and the last will be first (Matt. 19:30). God has a heart for those whom this world considers unimportant; and so should we. The little ones are of inestimable worth to God.
In relation to those who “wander,” is there anything in your attitude that needs to change? Toward the weak? The powerless? What changes do you plan to make?
Good Shepherd, I’m grateful that when I wandered, You sought me out. I want to be a loving under-shepherd, reaching out to those who have wandered.
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