Matthew 18:5-6 (NIV) “And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me. But 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.”
Even though Jesus is pointing to and referring to the little child that is standing in the midst of the disciples, in His teaching here He is pointing beyond the child to those whom the child represents: those who have become humble as little children, and have come into God’s kingdom.
That being said, everyone in the world has a responsibility to children, as all were children once, and children actually hold all of the potential for the whole human race. Any homeless child, any parentless child, any hungry, thirsty, or sick child should be received by anyone who claims the identity of human being, and cared for, so that they can grow healthy and strong, and continue the human race in the nobility that comes from security, instead of in the savagery that springs from want and need. And to lead a child into sin and darkness, to blunt their consciences and harden their hearts, to use them for one’s own pleasure or gain, is a sin almost too great to be described. It is a sin not only against God, and against the child, but against one’s own nature, against one’s own future. Such a sin will not be tolerated by God, and should not be tolerated by any decent person, let alone any person who goes by the sacred title of Christian. These are truths that no reasonable person should disagree with.
But, in addition to those truths, the teaching of Jesus here must not be limited to that one dimension. The child, as stated above, also represents those humble ones who are part of God’s kingdom. Because the people of God’s kingdom are pure-hearted, with transformed and cleansed hearts that gravitate toward mercy and trust, they, like children, can be deceived and taken advantage of, and mistreated by those with impure or anti-kingdom motives. But any who would take advantage of their good nature, any who would use intrigue to subvert their faith, any who would try to cause them to doubt or lead them into sin, must understand that these sheep of God’s have Him as their defender and avenger. And He will not sit idly by and allow the destruction of His people by those on the side of darkness. Even though these people may seem from time to time to carry the day, there will be a day of judgment, when God Himself will demand an accounting for every misled soul, and for every drop of innocent blood. All accounts will be settled before the throne of God on that day.
Father, hearing and reading these words sends a chill of horror through my heart over the fate of those who mislead and abuse Your people. Their end will indeed be too horrible to contemplate. And even if they were drowned with a millstone around their neck, they will not escape Your judgment. Their only hope is to repent while there is still time. On the other hand, it is a great comfort to know that, as a child of Your kingdom, You are my protector and defender, and I never need to worry that wrongs against me, or against others of Your people, will go unpunished. And I never have to try to get back myself at those who might do me wrong. I can turn the other cheek in good faith, just like Jesus, and leave the setting of scored in Your hands. Amen.