The Importance of Children
Jesus taught his disciples the importance of children in the beginning verses of Matthew 18 as they were arguing who would be the greatest in His kingdom.
Matthew 18 1At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”
2He called a little child and had him stand among them. 3And he said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4Therefore, 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. 6But 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! 8If 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. 9And 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.
Jesus’ warnings are clear in these verses on how we are to lead the little children and the consequences if we do not. The key to entering the Kingdom of Heaven, according to these verses is to become like little children. And the way to become as a little child is to become humble. If we humble ourselves as a child, we not only become part of the Kingdom of Heaven, we become the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven. How strange for Jesus to say, we must become humble to be great. But that is exactly what He did for us.
Jesus humbled Himself. He left His beautiful heavenly home to come to earth to be born as a human person – a tiny baby. Can our imaginations grasp the truth that the one who spoke the world into existence – the very Word of God Himself, left His Heavenly Kingdom realm and entered the earthly kingdom realm? He left the invisible world of light and love and entered into the visible world draped in the darkness of sin.
This visible world, once created in perfect peace and love – a world created for man to rule and reign – a kingdom world where man once had rulership and complete dominion – a kingdom realm where man had once been clothed in the light and glory of God – received the baby Jesus, the perfect Son of God. Indeed, Jesus, humbling Himself was sent by God the Father on a mission to redeem us from the Kingdom of Darkness back into the Kingdom of Light. (For more of this teaching ask for our book “Teaching Children To Worship.”)
Jesus continues His teaching in Matthew 18 and compares Himself as the Good Shephard and children of His sheep.
The Parable of the Lost Sheep
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.
12″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? 13And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. 14In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost.
Little children can come to Jesus. Little children can believe. Cover your children with prayer and ask the Lord for angelic protection and the Lord will give you what you pray for. He loves your child. He loves His little lambs and His sheep. From age birth to 3 or 4 allow your children to experience the presence of God through all 5 sense (i.e. breathe in nature, listen to worship music, move with the dance, experience the presence and glory of God – taste and see that the Lord is good). Allow your children to experience your worship and love of the Father. Keep yourself pure before the Lord. Watch what you allow into your 5 senses (your ear and eye gates especially and watch and listen to what is pure and holy). As the child experiences the love and presence of God as you experience it, by the ages of 5 – 8 or 9 as the child is learning social skills and increasing in knowledge, make sure the child receives foundational truths. Foundational truths such as memorizing and meditating on scripture, learning Bible characters and lessons that lead them to salvation. Help them put into practice listening and speaking the word of God by discovering the Gifts of the Spirit within them. From age 10 through 14, children need to learn to be leaders to the younger children who look up to them. By age 15 and older, young teens should be already prepared to lead the next generation. Do not hinder the children – prepare them for the Kingdom of Heaven. The warning of Jesus is clear in Matthew 18.
A Brother Who Sins Against You
Below is the remainder of Matthew 18 as Jesus teaches on forgiveness. Oh, that we would learn not to hurt with our mouths and our mind, will, and emotions. If we could learn to love those that are not kind to us, and not take on offenses – the God of love and light would shine through our very beings to show forth His glory. If the church would follow Jesus’ teaching on love and forgiveness, there would not be sheep bitting other sheep; there would be sheep humbling themselves in repentence and forgiveness. The Kingdom of Heaven is available to us now while we live in this earthly realm. However, both repentance and forgiveness are needed to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven – the kingdom of light and love where the presence of God exists. The Kingdom of Heaven is waiting to fill each one who will come to Him in spirit and in truth.
15″If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. 16But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ 17If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.
18″I tell you the truth, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.
19″Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. 20For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.”
The Parable of the Unmerciful Servant
21Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?”
22Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.
23″Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him. 25Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.
26″The servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ 27The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.
28″But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded.
29″His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.’
30″But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. 31When the other servants saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed and went and told their master everything that had happened.
32″Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. 33Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ 34In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.
35″This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart.”