cropped-lent-title-1-still-4x3Psalm 51; Isaiah 58:1-12; Matthew 18:1-7

Who is the greatest? A statement that constantly plagues man’s agenda in life.  Our children come home talking about whose hair, clothes, grades, etc. are the greatest. Pastors suffer with whose church is the greatest. Spouses sometimes look at other families or parents and ask themselves who is the greatest. If we are honest with ourselves, at some point we experience intimidation by someone else’s accomplishments and desires. We measure ourselves by others or by the task that is ahead of us. Who is the greatest?

Jesus answers (Matthew 18:1-7)this pride of life moment by adding another mentality to the equation.  He adds a child’s perception or a child’s paradigm. This is so interesting because a child operates off of desire and not experience. A child hungers for the approval of their father. A child trusts but is yet innocent. Now this interest me because if I trust in the right source it is ok to be innocent. Adam and Eve experienced this truth but, at the end, they allowed their trust to be challenged and converted. See the enemy knows how innocent we are. However, what we do not realized is God requires us to trust Him.

If we want to please Him. Hebrews 11:6 says it like this for without faith it is impossible to please God. If we are going to bring pleasure to His name and  if we are going to receive the approval of our father we must have faith! We must move in the trust, confidence and reliance in Him and not His ability. If we can accomplish this then we can safely be innocent. Once we are in the father’s hand it is He that will protect us. Ask the disciples when they were in the boat in the midst of a storm. They had to become childlike or innocent. Did Christ protect them from danger? If we are going to combat the pride of life, we need a child’s mentality.

Christ then reveals to us here that what you consider success for your life is not measured in the approval of men and their standards but your victory, your success  and your greatness are actually accomplished in humility. It is when you are humble that you are successful. Being humble is not the vehicle to greatness. Being humble IS greatness. I do not have to be intimidated, I do not have to be afraid or pressured in order to be great. All I need to do is get low. Get lost in the identity of my father. Become naive and trust Christ. He has the plan and the purpose that will bring pleasure to our father.

Jesus take his teaching a little further. He says now as believers if you will receive the ones who is child-like, you have actually received me. If I am going to reveal myself, it’s going to be through the embracement of brothers and sisters. How shall you know them? By the love they have for one another. Jesus reveals a hidden principle. 1) Your brother and sister is the one who is humbly fulfilling His work. 2). When you identify them embrace them. For this is your brother but not only that, this is how you see your heart. If you can embrace a childlike believer, you can embrace me. If you can embrace me then this reveals what is in your heart.

Jesus takes this principle farther. He says now if you find yourself not able to receive the humble , that is the child- like believer, then what is in your heart is not Christ. What is in you will bring offense. It will bring contention amongst the group. If where ever you go there is resistance, conflict and confusion. Offense happens. Christ encourages us to drown this behavior. He tells us offense will come but that is not the problem. That is the world’s job. What we need to pay attention to is WHO brings the offense. Now this is a practical tool. The one who bring offense is the one we need to pray for,  keeping our distance from and allow our childlike family be an example to them in hopes they will convert and become humble or child-like.

So with this in mind, as we go through our day Lord, we humble ourselves. Give us moments today to embrace our brothers and our sisters. Give us a moment today to be an example to the offenders in our life. Allow us to plant seeds on the hope of salvation and hope of sanctification. The harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few. I ask you today to use me as your labor. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Pastor Michael L. McCants  – A New Start International Church of the Nazarene – Florence SC

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