Sunday, September 04, 2011

Little ones

"Jesus and the Little Child" by James Tissot

TODAY'S SPECIAL: Matthew 18:1-20

TO CHEW ON: "So it is not the will of my Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish." Matthew 18:14 ESV

"Little ones" here refers to little people — children. Jesus had great affection for them. Earlier in this chapter we see Him calling a child over, putting him in the centre of the group and saying profound things like, "... unless you turn and become like children you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven" - Matthew 18:3-4.

He goes on to say what a serious sin it is to cause a child to stumble (sin). And after exploring the gravity of causing anyone to stumble (Matthew 18:7-9). He again turns His attention toward the child, pointing out the importance of each one: "So it is not the will of my Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish."

How beautifully the family serves Jesus' ideal in this way. Bring any baby—homely or beautiful, mentally challenged or brilliant—into a loving family and he/she will have a ready-made cheering section of parents, grandparents, siblings, aunts, uncles, and cousins, who are onside, helping, encoring, loving and cheering the kid on.

Of course here Jesus was talking about more than social well-being. He was drawing attention to the importance of a child's spiritual state (Matthew 18:5-6).

When we consider what Jesus said and combine that with the fact that a child's worldview is largely formed by the time he or she is 13 years old,* we can see how important our treatment and training of children is.

So let's look at the children in our lives with a renewed sense of responsibility, taking care to not only refrain from making them stumble/sin, but to help them find Jesus.

PRAYER: Dear God, thank You for the little people in my life. Please help me to take seriously the warning not to stumble them. Help me, instead, to point them to Jesus with my words and my life. Amen.

MORE: I Don't Want to Pray

“I don’t want to pray,”
slap words sting
from my four-year-old daughter.
How have I millstoned God to her
so she won’t bring
her earaches to Him?

I remember, “Are you saved?”
evangelistic, zealous aunt
cornered me, seven.
Next time she visited,
I hid.

Jesus is different.
His words a compelling beckon
lure-and-bait questions
irresistible Pied-Piper-tune stories.

I see my little girl
one of that eager wriggling crowd
pressing too close
for disciples’ comfort.
His eyes draw her near
she leans, trusting, against Him
He lifts her on His knee.

While He talks
she watches the way
His chin moves,
fingers His beard,
catches His eye
and says, shyly,
“I have an earache.”

© 2003 by Violet Nesdoly (First published on the Utmost Christian Writers website.)

* As per George Barna in Transforming Children Into Spiritual Champions By George Barna, 2003.

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