SERVING THE LITTLE ONES
Lord Jesus, thank you that you’re able to do in and through me what I could never do by myself.
Read MATTHEW 18:1-14
The Greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven
18 At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”
2 He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. 3 And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5 And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.
Causing to Stumble
6 “If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. 7 Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to stumble! Such things must come, but woe to the person through whom they come! 8 If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life maimed or crippled than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire. 9 And if your eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell.
The Parable of the Wandering Sheep
10 “See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven.  [a]
12 “What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? 13 And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. 14 In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should perish.
- Matthew 18:11 Some manuscripts include here the words of Luke 19:10.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
How far do we share God’s concern for the weakest in the kingdom?
What qualities does God look for in his disciples? The first, as suggested in these verses, is humility. In the world, looking up to those who are ‘great’ is often seen as important. Instead, Jesus points to a powerless child, one without status and completely dependent on others. He tells his disciples that they must turn away from their preoccupation with status and be objectively humble. ‘Unless you change…’ (see v 3). We are further challenged to consider whether our confidence is that of a child trusting the goodness of our Father, or in ourselves.
Jesus then challenges us to consider how wholehearted we are in our discipleship. Causing people spiritual damage, making them question their faith through our actions or words, is a serious matter, with serious consequences. Moreover, we are to be at war with our own tendencies to sin, whatever part of us that involves (vs 8,9). Jesus says that if we are to follow him, we must radically reject anything that would lead us into evil. Every obstacle in the way of ‘life’ (v 9) is to be eliminated, whatever the personal cost.
Finally, we are to imitate Jesus in caring for and restoring his ‘little ones’ (v 10). These are all incredibly precious to God. Going out of our way to nurture and bring back those who have run from the fold is of prime importance in our discipleship. Pastoral care is what all believers is called to do.
The emphasis in this passage seems to be that God’s community is to look out for one another, show patience toward the spiritually struggling and seek to restore those who are straying with gentleness and forgiveness, all the time being committed in their personal walk with God.
Seek to be honest and radical in examining your heart and nurturing in yourself the actions and attitudes God says are indispensable.
Lord, I want to live for you with integrity and authenticity. May my words and life demonstrate the difference that Jesus makes.
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