Summary: Message discussing the idea that we must be careful to not lead others into sin.
Greatness and Humility
Part 2: Considering the Needs and Weaknesses of Others
June 10, 2007
I’m going to do something a little different today, given the fact that we will be observing the Lord’s Supper here in a bit.
So for the sake of time, I’m going to dispense with some of the regular introductory stuff that I normally have in the beginning and just kind of dive in to the stuff we need to cover, okay?
I also need to tell you that this will be a hard message to listen to at times, and it won’t be the smoothest you’ve heard.
This subject matter doesn’t lend itself real well to smooth transitions and humorous anecdotes.
My preaching teachers probably won’t think much of my form today, but we’ll trust God to override that.
We’re in Matthew 18, and we’re in the first 10 verses. Let’s head over there, okay?
1 At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, "Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?"
2 He called a little child and had him stand among them. 3 And he said: "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
5 "And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me. 6 But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.
7 "Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to sin! Such things must come, but woe to the man through whom they come! 8 If your hand or your foot causes you to sin 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 sin, 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.
10 "See that you do not look down on one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven.”
What I want to look at today is the focus of verses 5 and 6.
There are two main components to this part of the passage.
The first is the encouragement in verse 5 to welcome the “little ones.” It’s short, and I want to take a moment to discuss this in just a little bit.
Jesus makes an unmistakable link between welcoming others and welcoming Him.
Hospitality was a huge mark of the early church. I think one of the major reasons was because they caught that link.
The bottom line here is that we are to be people who welcome any who are part of the family of believers, no matter their station in life.
Children were considered second-class citizens, and Jesus is basically saying that “second-class” citizens are to be shown the same hospitality you would show anyone else.
So showing hospitality – “welcoming” is something Jesus encourages us here as a display of love toward others and toward Jesus Himself.
But now let’s turn the corner to the meat of the passage, the warnings about sin and causing people to sin, starting in verse 6.
For some reason, Jesus felt that He needed to spend extra time and effort here discussing sin, especially in relation to these “little ones.”
And remember, when Jesus talks about the little ones, He’s not just talking about children – He’s talking about all who have put their humble faith in Him.
But before I too much farther, let me make a very quick comment about verses 7-9.
These are a repeat of what Jesus says back in chapter 5 when He’s discussing adultery in the Sermon on the Mount.
Without going over all that again, let me just review by saying that Jesus is saying you need to cut out the sources of temptation that lead you to sin.
Sometimes those cuts have to be drastic, and may cause hardship or pain. But that’s better than finding yourself facing eternal life in hell instead of heaven, wouldn’t you agree?
Back to the issue in verse 6.
Often Scripture talks about personal sin and the need to leave it with the help of God.
But we don’t often talk about the fact that sometimes we are guilty of not just personal sin, but also of influencing others to sin.