At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, "Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" 2 And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them 3 and said, "Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
5 "Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, 6 but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea. (Matthew 18:1-7. ESV.)
Understanding the Text
Honestly, I thought this was going to be an easy post. No, actually. Not so much. So, it is full of scripture because I wanted to make sure I got the meaning behind each piece of text correct. Originally, I felt this was saying we have to be childlike...in a number of ways...not only humble but also unconditional in love, unwavering in belief, and plentiful with innocence. After further digging, however, I feel I was (perhaps) a bit off.
"Whoever receives this child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me. For he who is least among you all is the one who is great." (Luke 9:48. ESV.)
Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it." (Mark 10:15. ESV.)John 3:5: Jesus answered, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.
Brothers, do not be children in your thinking. Be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature. (1 Corinthians 14:20. ESV.)Ephesians 4:14: ...so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.
Romans 16:19: For your obedience is known to all, so that I rejoice over you, but I want you to be wise as to what is good and innocent as to what is evil.
Okay, so one is to be "born again", baptized, and receive the Holy Spirit. Further he or she is to be wise as serpents yet innocent as doves (Matthew 10:16). So, I personally take that to mean I need to use wisdom and be certain I am not guilty of ANY evil.
One of my all time favorite teachers, John Piper, puts it this way,
"'What must I do to be saved?' is probably the most important question any human can ask. Let's look for a moment at the different ways God answers that question in his Word. The answer in Acts 16:31 is 'Believe on the Lord Jesus and you will be saved.' The answer in John 1:12 is that we must receive Christ: 'To all who received him . . . he gave power to become children of God.' The answer in Acts 3:19 is, Repent! That is, turn away from sin. 'Repent therefore, and turn again that your sins may be blotted out.' The answer in Hebrews 5:9 is obedience to Christ. 'Jesus became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him.' Jesus himself answered the question in a variety of ways. For example, he said in Matthew 18:3 that childlikeness is the condition for salvation:
Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
Back to the Basics
Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:19. ESV.)
What are the commandments? Exodus 20 says they are:
1. Have no other gods before God.
2. Do not bow down to or serve carved images (or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.)
3. Do not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.
4. Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.
5. Honor your father and your mother.
6. Do not murder.
7. Do not commit adultery.
8. Do not steal.
9. Do not bear false witness against your neighbor.
10. Do not covet anything that is your neighbor’s.
See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven. For the Son of Man came to save the lost. (Matthew18:10. ESV.)
Thus, sinning against your brothers and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. (1 Corinthians 8:12. ESV.)
Zechariah 2:8: For thus said the LORD of hosts, after his glory sent me to the nations who plundered you, for he who touches you touches the apple of his eye: