Sunday 13th August 2017 (Trinity 9)

Matthew 18: 1-14 (NKJV)

At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” 2Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, 3and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. 4Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me. 6“Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea. 7Woe to the world because of offenses! For offenses must come, but woe to that man by whom the offense comes! 8“If your hand or foot causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life lame or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet, to be cast into the everlasting fire. 9And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire. 10“Take heed that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that in heaven their angels always see the face of My Father who is in heaven. 11For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost. 12“What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine and go to the mountains to seek the one that is straying? 13And if he should find it, assuredly, I say to you, he rejoices more over that sheep than over the ninety-nine that did not go astray. 14Even so it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.

Like the disciples in verse 1, many of us are often concerned about being “the greatest” in our own little world of influence, such as family, church, community, workplace or nation. Some may even go beyond what James and John did in Mark 10: 35-40 to scheme their way to the top, whether by dubious means. But Jesus warns us against unhealthy ambitions, attitudes, habits and practices that could prevent one from entering heaven, not to talk of being the greatest in it (vs. 3-4).

We must cut off such worldly patterns of thought and clothe ourselves with child-like humility if we must enter heaven. Other things to be cut off to enter heaven are listed figuratively in vs. 8-9 as “hands”, “feet” and “eyes”.  These represent things we see and do, and places we go.  Other terms used are “little foxes that spoil the vineyard” (Song of Songs 2: 15), “a little leaven that leavens the whole lump” (Gal. 5: 9), “lust of the eye, lust of the flesh and pride of life” (1 John 2: 15-17). Let us re-examine ourselves today and cut off those interests, pleasures and preoccupations that hinder our relationship with God.

Prayer: Search me, O God, and know my heart; see if there is any offensive way in me.