Summary: 1- the humbled child 2- the welcomed child 3- the sinful child
INTRO.- Greatness. Who is the greatest person in America? Obviously, that depends on your viewpoint and what you’re talking about. If you are looking at physical beauty many people will name someone in Hollywood.
ILL.- Some say, for example, that George Clooney is the sexiest man in Hollywood. He is a handsome man and he’s a good actor, and he might be sexy (and I really don’t care) but I certainly wouldn’t certainly consider him to be a great man. Not considering the few stories that I have read about him. He’s quite a rounder, a drinker, a partier, so to speak, and that doesn’t constitute greatness in my thinking.
Plus I read this story recently about George Clooney. His pet pig died. Listen to this. Months after enduring the death of his pet bulldog, now George Clooney is having to cope with the death of his pet potbellied pig, Max.
Max, who weighed approximately 300lb, was Clooney’s pet over the last 18 years. The two were so close they even shared the same bed. "Usually, he sleeps on the foot of my bed, but he’s gotten so fat in the last year," Clooney told 60 Minutes last February.
Max died peacefully on Friday, Dec. 1st of “natural causes” but he was suffering with arthritis and was partly blind. The animal lived a nice long life in pig years and according to Richard Slayton from pigs4ever.com, "I can tell you any pig that lives over the age of 12, the owner knows what he’s doing and is taking care of it. Obviously, Mr. Clooney did a very good job, and probably loved that pig very much."
Brothers and sisters, I have nothing against pigs or pets of any kind, but when a man seemingly values a pig that highly then he is not a great man in my book! I just happen to think that people are far more valuable than any animal.
Just as beauty is in the eye of the beholder so greatness is in the mind of the thinker. Personally, I consider Billy Graham to be something of a great man because of his faith in Christ and how he has never wavered in his preaching of Christ. He has always boldly but politely pointed people to Christ, regardless of their position in life: the rich, the famous, the presidents, etc.
What constitutes greatness? I think it deals with a person’s faith in Christ and how active that faith is. In my mind, a great person doesn’t have to preach the faith, but they certainly have to live the faith. If they are faithful to Christ and love others, to me, that’s greatness!
Regardless of what we consider to be greatness, we must always consider what Jesus says. Jesus asked, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” He didn’t ask who is the greatest actor, politician, preacher, etc. Jesus was always concerned about the eternal, not the temporary. And since we are going to live forever after this earthly life then we, too, should be thinking more about the eternal.
PROP.- In this text Jesus talks about children, their importance and how they relate to greatness in God’s eyes.
1- the humbled child
2- the welcomed child
3- the sinful child
I. THE HUMBLED CHILD
Matt. 18:1-4 “At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, "Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" He called a little child and had him stand among them. And he said: "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”
Children may be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And we all need to be like children in that they are often humble, dependent, needy, etc. This is the kind of attitude we need toward the Lord.
ILL.- Billy Graham tells of a time early in his ministry when he arrived in a small town to preach. Wanting to mail a letter, he asked a young boy where the post office was. When the boy had told him, Graham thanked him and said, "If you’ll come to the Baptist Church this evening, you can hear me preach about how to get to heaven."
The boy replied, "I don’t think I’ll be there... You don’t even know your way to the post office."
How’s that for being humbled? And haven’t we all been humbled in some form by someone? And especially by a child? Children often say what’s on their minds and sometimes it can be very blunt.
ILL.- Katie, age 9 - If you want something in a cereal box and it looks really big, it always turns out small and crummy.