A little boy gathered up his bat, ball and glove for practice. He went out to his backyard alone to play the game he adored. To watch him, you could almost hear the imaginary crowd cheering for his success in connecting with the ball and knocking it out of the park! He laid down his glove, picked up his bat and ball, struck the bat on the ground a few times like the majors do, then took a few practice swings. He firmly planted his feet and looked at the imaginary pitcher on the mound about to throw the first pitch to him.
“I am the greatest batter in the world!”, he screams to the roaring crowd in his head. He then throws the ball in his hand high into the air with his bat on his shoulder. He quickly positions himself to swing! But he misses. “Strike One!” he yells, for he is also the umpire.
He repositions himself and tries again, “I am the greatest batter in the world!”. The boy swings at his own thrown pitch. He misses again. “Strike Two!” he yells. The crowd in his mind goes wild. He is now dusting off his feet.
He tries once more, “I am the greatest batter in the world!”. The ball is thrown. Another corkscrew swing with all his might sends him to the dirt. “Strike Three!” he yells while picking himself up. But the crowd is still cheering him on. The boy then yells for all to hear, “I am the greatest pitcher in the world!” He laughs as he does a victory dance around the base. Undaunted, he begins the process all over again.
“Who is the greatest in the Kingdom?”, the followers ask Jesus one fine day as they traveled by foot over the countryside to seek and to save the lost. His answer was simple and plain, easy to understand. “…turn from your sins…”become like children”. Jesus’ example, “come as a child” meant coming to the Father in Heaven with the faith a child has for a loving father. A small child depends on their parents for all their needs and wants. A child will jump into the arms of their father when they are told to jump, trusting they will catch them. A child adores parents who love them and care for them. When a child feels afraid or threatened, they run to who loves them most.
“Come as a child” to the One and Only who is forever faithful with trust in Him first and always. People who do come in complete trust with humbled hearts seeking forgiveness from their sins, turning from evil to follow God, the Father are deemed great. We become great in the Kingdom of God we seek His great love for us. We become great as we rely fully on God to grow our faith, hope and love with humble hearts. Greatness is found in God alone. We receive His Great Love because of His Great Grace and Mighty Mercy. Who is the greatest? The one who believes and sings, “Great is the Lord!” with a pure heart.
Matthew—God’s Law Fulfilled
Matthew 18:1-10, NLT
The Greatest in the Kingdom
About that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?”
2 Jesus called a little child to him and put the child among them. 3 Then he said, “I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven. 4 So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.
5 “And anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf is welcoming me. 6 But if you cause one of these little ones who trusts in me to fall into sin, it would be better for you to have a large millstone tied around your neck and be drowned in the depths of the sea.
7 “What sorrow awaits the world, because it tempts people to sin. Temptations are inevitable, but what sorrow awaits the person who does the tempting. 8 So if your hand or foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It’s better to enter eternal life with only one hand or one foot than to be thrown into eternal fire with both of your hands and feet. 9 And if your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It’s better to enter eternal life with only one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell.
10 “Beware that you don’t look down on any of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels are always in the presence of my heavenly Father.
DANGER AHEAD! What is NOT great…
Jesus concludes with a warning for those who yield to evil’s schemes to bring a younger believer down, tempt them sin, and turn them away from doing what is right with consistent harassment and criticism in their walk with God. “Better to be drowned in the sea”…Yikes!
Jesus gets right to the bottom line. “What sorrow awaits the world, because it tempts people to sin.” Cast of, get rid of, turn from and lay down all that is offensive to the Father who loves us with great love.
Who, then, is the greatest? The one who loves God back. The humbled one who believes all that God says while believing who God says He is, was and is to come.
“O people, the Lord has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8, NLT The prophet of God.
Prophesy fulfilled when we walk with God. Don’t look down on anyone. Look up to God.
Seeking greatness in the world’s view of thinking is not what you want. You have expressed that clearly for us in Your Word more than once and you have reminded us today. Help us to come to you with childlike faith as we grow out of our childish, selfish behaviors. Help us realize the depth of your love for us, with power to love each other like you love us. Help us to run from evil’s schemes, thinking and behaviors that bring all of us down. Instead help us to focus all our thoughts on You so our subsequent behaviors are right and good, holy and pure. Thank you for teaching us. You are life. We cannot do life without you. Thank you for consistently growing and transforming me to be and do all you want, not what I want. Forgive me when I strike out. Thank you for picking me up and setting my feet firmly on your foundation.
In Jesus Name, Amen