On Being An Example

Matthew 18:1-10

At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”  Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, and 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. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me.  “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. Woe to the world because of offenses! For offenses must come, but woe to that man by whom the offense comes!  “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. And 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.  “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.

When our grandson, Robert Thomas, was 3 years old he had been sick and was running a high fever.  At one point it had reached 105.5 F.  Needless to say, he was a very sick little boy.  His mother took him to the doctor.  When they returned home, he saw my car in the parking lot next to their apartment.  He told his mother, “Papa will pray for me and I will be all better.” 

We have an awesome responsibility, especially to these little ones. Especially to the new Christians. Especially to those we come in contact with that do not know Jesus Christ whether it is on the job, at school, in our neighborhood, or at the store. We have a responsibility and will be held accountable.

Jesus’ parting words told us to be witnesses.  But, are we the example we should be?  We cannot be a witness for Jesus Christ unless first we are an example.

This passage tells us to be humble…to receive a little child in His name…and the result of being an offense to one of these little ones.  I do not believe Jesus was just referring to the little children here, but these examples and the resulting punishment for being an offense apply to both little children and to those who are little in knowledge of the Word of God.

What does the Lord require of us?

Micah 6:6-8 – With what shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before the High God?  Shall I come before Him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old?  Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, ten thousand rivers of oil?  Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?  He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?

Micah’s statement sounds somewhat like the prophet Samuel speaking to King Saul.

1 Samuel 15:17 and 22 – So Samuel said, “When you were little in your own eyes, were you not head of the tribes of Israel? And did not the Lord anoint you king over Israel.  So Samuel said: “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord?  Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams.

Paul the Apostle had some advice for young Timothy.

1 Timothy 4:11-16 – These things command and teach.  Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity. Till I come, give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you by prophecy with the laying on of the hands of the eldership. Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all. Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you.

To be an example, we must follow Paul’s exhortation to Timothy.

2 Timothy 2:15 – Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

We have a requirement to be good stewards of that which has been imparted to us by the Word of God, the preaching, our studying.  All of these things will help us to be a good example.

Matthew 5:16 – Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.

John 15: 8 – By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.

This scripture in the Living Bible reads:  My true disciples produce bountiful harvests. This brings great glory to my Father.

What about love?

John 15:12 – This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you

John 13:35 – Your strong love for each other will prove to the world that you are my disciples.  (The Living Bible)

1 Peter 2:11-12 – Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation.

When the prophet Isaiah had an encounter with God, he spoke of that vision and taught us how we should be both an example and a witness and what our response should be when we have a real meeting with Jesus Christ.

Isaiah 6:3-8 – And one cried to another and said:  “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory!”  And the posts of the door were shaken by the voice of him who cried out, and the house was filled with smoke.  So I said:  “Woe is me, for I am undone!  Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, The Lord of hosts.”  Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a live coal which he had taken with the tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth with it, and said:  “Behold, this has touched your lips; your iniquity is taken away, and your sin purged.”  Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying:  “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?”  Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.”