Today’s focus passage is going to build on our passage that was our verse of the day, which said, “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world.” (1 John 2:15-16 NIV) Today’s focus passage says:
At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”
He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.
“If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to stumble! Such things must come, but woe to the person through whom they come! If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life maimed or crippled than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire. And if your eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell.
The first thing we see here is a strong warning to those who might influence others—particularly children or a childlike follower of Christ—to sin or defy God. And there are things that we must do to correctly influence those around us. (1) We must be careful not to offend or spiritually mislead anyone who might look to us for a Godly example. It is one thing to deliberately go our own way, but to cause others to fall away from God is an even greater offense and will incur Christ’s greatest wrath (his justified anger and punishment). (2) Pastors, teachers and especially parents should give special attention to these words of Jesus. The parents’ responsibility is to instruct their children in the ways of God and to protect them from the ungodly influence of the world and Satan. And (3) Christian parents must help their children to avoid the influence of ungodly friends. Parents should be especially careful about what they allow world to introduce to their children’s minds and hearts by means of education or avenues of entertainment, such as television, the internet, music and other media.
And the last thing we see in this passage is Jesus’ warning of severe judgement for those who cause others to sin or who introduce others to beliefs or behaviors that may lead them away from their faith in God. The things that cause people to sin include lust-filled or vulgar entertainment, humanistic teachings (teachings based on our own reasoning apart from God), immoral movies, pornographic literature, drugs, alcoholic beverages, disrespectful humor, false teaching and ungodly companions. When we point others toward such things, we are actually joining with Satan, who is the master tempter. The behaviors and lifestyles of God’s faithful people should not include the kinds of things that we just listed. In fact, those who follow Christ should do their best to remove from their families, their homes, their churches and their own lives anything that might tempt others or influence them to sin against God. Which takes full circle back to our verse of day passage, “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world.” (1 John 2:15-16 NIV)
Tomorrow’s Bible Readings:
Exodus 5:22-7:25, Matthew 18:21-19:12, Psalm 23:1-6 and Proverbs 5:22-23