Has anyone ever told you the Bible is irrelevant? That it contains a few good stories with moral lessons but isn’t really significant to our world and how we live today? Anyone who thinks that obviously hasn’t read it very much.
In Matthew 18, Jesus covers three topics that are real-life issues applicable to every human being:
1. How are we influencing the children in our lives?
2. How do we deal with conflict, especially when the “other” person is in the wrong?
3. How can we forgive when we’ve been hurt?
We could spend a lot of time on each of these, but I encourage you to read Jesus’ wisdom (i.e. commands) for yourself. The theme of the chapter seems to be that our actions and words do not just affect ourselves. We are responsible before God for the way we treat other people and the influence we have on them.
Let’s just look at the first one. In answer to the disciples (self-motivated) question of “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” Jesus sets a little child before them. He calls attention to their innocent, child-like faith as an example of the humility needed to become a true follower. He is very clear about how seriously God takes it when an adult “causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble.” To destroy a child’s faith in God is worthy of death.
Jesus isn’t just talking about child abuse or sex trafficking. I believe this happens every single day, from personal encounters at home when parents reject truth themselves and fail to teach their children, to the government agencies, schools, and public service organizations that push wicked agendas on children, like LGBTQ, racism (cloaked as critical race theory), transgender lies, “relevant truth” ideology, evolution, etc. etc. God will hold us accountable for not only destroying the earthly lives of children but for the eternal destinies that are affected.
Matthew 18:6-7 – But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe to the world because of its stumbling blocks! For it is inevitable that stumbling blocks come; but woe to that man through whom the stumbling block comes!
We are responsible for what our children see and hear, not only for those who belong to our families but for the innocent ones who have no one speaking up for them. If you have children in school, as a Christian parent you ought to be aware of what is being taught and be willing to be a vocal advocate for truth. We need to be building relationships with parents who do not know Christ, not only for their sake but for the sake of the children in their homes. We need to speak up when God gives us a platform.
I don’t believe we can carry the burden of the world. That’s a God-sized job. But wherever you are, whoever God puts in your path, notice and act on the opportunities to speak truth, to encourage and lift up, to point to Jesus, especially on behalf of the children. (And by children, I mean anyone who isn’t an adult…so yes, teenagers are “little ones” in Jesus’ view!)
On a personal level, if you proclaim faith in Christ, be reminded that children are watching you. Do your words point to Christ, or to the world? Are you walking by faith, or living by fear? If the little ones in your life described God only by what they see in you, would they have an accurate picture? Is your faith worth imitating? Is your life filled with peace and joy and hope, and a commitment to holy living, or is it a stumbling block to those who come behind you?
These are heavy words. Serious words.
Jesus loves the little children isn’t just a catchy kids’ song that makes us feel all warm and fuzzy. It’s a biblical truth we must live out.