People are skeptical that very young children can truly have adequate faith, and wonder if we should focus on those who have greater understanding. In Part 1, we looked at the first five verses of Matthew 18, where Jesus said that to ENTER the Kingdom of Heaven, we must become like little children. We must take a lowly position, realizing our inability to do anything for ourselves. The Greek word for little, used throughout this chapter truly means a very young child in that culture.
The subject of little children continues in verses 6-8 with a dire warning. “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.” The Greek word for believe here is the same word in the famous John 3:16 and in Acts 16:31 verses, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.” Children can easily have adequate faith, but big people, with our doubt in the faith of children, can cause them to stumble in their faith. We can also put things in front of a child, such as unbiblical teaching, that causes them to doubt the Bible and God’s existence and goodness.
After Jesus talks about stumbling blocks, he mentions little children again lest we forget the primary subject, and then goes into the parable about the lost sheep. “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? 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. In the same way, your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should perish.”
Notice, He ended again with mention of little ones. How many times have you and I heard this passage about the wandering sheep but that final verse about little ones was left off? Are we missing the emphasis that Jesus places on children? Do we dismiss children and children’s workers as less important kingdom work? Do we fail to respect the faith of a young child as even more quality than our own? When Jesus says, “see that you do not despise one of these little ones” I can easily think, “well I certainly don’t despise a child!” Because that word seems a little harsh in the English language I can fail to apply it to myself. But thinking less of children and failing to value them as much as Jesus does, equates to the sin of despising them.
I want to also take a minute to encourage the Christian parent out there who’s child has wandered off the pasture like a lost sheep. Did you instruct your child about Jesus and hear an expression of faith? And now does it seem your child has stumbled due to the world’s influence? Know that Jesus cares very much for your wayward child. He is actively pursuing your child. The Shepherd in the story left the 99 to go look, and it will bring Him great joy to bring that one lost sheep back to the fold. He is not willing that any of these little ones should perish, even after they’ve grown up. I know you pray for your child. I just want to encourage you to pray to the Shepherd and know that Jesus has not given up calling your child to Him.
If you’ve been convicted today that you need to value children and their faith more, I encourage you to get equipped for ministry to children. Go to cefcmi.com and see the training you can get to both evangelize children and disciple them so they can follow Jesus. This is the online home of the physical Children’s Ministries Institute. There are helps for explaining the gospel, teaching Bible lessons, teaching verses and songs, understanding age groups, and much more. It only takes 5 minutes to register for the online learning system and then the dashboard helps you keep track of your courses and seminars. Do you feel discouraged about things that are happening in the world? The best thing you can do is join the legacy of believers around the world who are dedicated to reaching children everywhere possible and bringing them to Jesus!