The Greatest in the Kingdom
1 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.
Jesus, I can see I am changing into this little child, but I’m amazed at what You have to do to me to get me to change. How hard hearted I am. It is scary to think how much more I must change and how much I, and my family, will suffer because I can’t seem to change without trial.
Why is that Lord? Why, after all these years, I still can’t change without trials and difficulties? And why must those I love suffer so much because of my sins and failures? Your ways are not my ways. Your thoughts are not my thoughts. I guess this is where I must just trust You and muddle through another day.
Lord, help me not to muddle. Today, let me run from sin. Let me rush to do good. Let me explode with kindness and love. Just one day Lord, shock me by making me a humble child…a sinless child. Change me.
5 “And anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf[a] 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.
Jesus, I’m sure I have caused people to sin. I have even caused my own children to sin. I know I haven’t been the example I should be. I know I have caused my wife to sin. Lord, what have I not done wrong? Yet You love me and put up with me. You even want me in heaven with You forever. Your mercy and forgiveness are amazing. My shame will never end. I take advantage of Your mercy and sin again. I’m sure Ill do it again today. Lord, help me see how I lead others astray and stop. Please Lord, never let me tempt another again. Change me Lord.
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.[b]
Jesus, I hear You calling me to be much more radical. Here You tell me to do anything to be free from sin. Be extreme…be radical. Find the source of my temptation and get rid of it…cut it out of my life, whatever it is. Jesus, show me what I need to cut out of my life. Show me where the true source of my temptations are. Then give me the faith to cut them out and throw them away. And Lord, I see that my temptations are usually going to be my own fault (my own eye or foot).
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.[c]
Jesus, do I have an angel in heaven? What is it’s job? Not a big deal I guess, but this is interesting. Have You really assigned a special being to me? More important, do my children have angels? Please Lord, send Your angels to guard their steps, keep them pure, and bring them home.
Parable of the Lost Sheep
12 “If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them wanders away, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others on the hills and go out to search for the one that is lost? 13 And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he will rejoice over it more than over the ninety-nine that didn’t wander away! 14 In the same way, it is not my heavenly Father’s will that even one of these little ones should perish.
Jesus, how often do I make You come and search for me. I feel like I am constantly wondering away from You. I sin. I chase worldly “stuff”. When a lamb is away from the shepherd it is in so much more danger. When I am away from You I am in the devil’s territory without protection. Why do I wonder away? When will I learn to stay close to You? When does this cycle of temptation and failure end? Help me to rest in You Lord. Change me.
Correcting Another Believer
15 “If another believer[d] sins against you,[e] go privately and point out the offense. If the other person listens and confesses it, you have won that person back. 16 But if you are unsuccessful, take one or two others with you and go back again, so that everything you say may be confirmed by two or three witnesses. 17 If the person still refuses to listen, take your case to the church. Then if he or she won’t accept the church’s decision, treat that person as a pagan or a corrupt tax collector. 18 “I tell you the truth, whatever you forbid[f] on earth will be forbidden in heaven, and whatever you permit[g] on earth will be permitted in heaven.
Jesus, who am I to take my case against someone else to anyone? Could anyone ever really wrong me more than I have wronged You? I don’t want confrontation. It is easier for me to just let it go. Yet that last verse tells me that is wrong too.
You want me to walk a fine line of not being too harsh, and not turning a blind eye to evil. It is the most difficult approach. But I do see, it is exactly what You do with me.
Jesus, change me so at the core of my being I am like You. Then things like this will be natural, and not so difficult. You will be my support and my guide. Your yoke is easy, Your burden is light. Change my heart Lord. Change me.
19 “I also tell you this: If two of you agree here on earth concerning anything you ask, my Father in heaven will do it for you. 20 For where two or three gather together as my followers,[h] I am there among them.”
Jesus, I don’t pray with my family often at all. We really need to change this. Jesus, every time I try it ends in fights and frustration. I don’t know what to do different. I don’t know where to go from here. But I know this would be a good thing.
Please Jesus, help me to pray with my wife and my children. Bring it about. Open the door and push me through if You have to. I’m going to look for the opportunity. Please help Lord. Change my family.
Parable of the Unforgiving Debtor
23 “Therefore, the Kingdom of Heaven can be compared to a king who decided to bring his accounts up to date with servants who had borrowed money from him. 24 In the process, one of his debtors was brought in who owed him millions of dollars.[k] 25 He couldn’t pay, so his master ordered that he be sold—along with his wife, his children, and everything he owned—to pay the debt.
26 “But the man fell down before his master and begged him, ‘Please, be patient with me, and I will pay it all.’ 27 Then his master was filled with pity for him, and he released him and forgave his debt.
28 “But when the man left the king, he went to a fellow servant who owed him a few thousand dollars.[l] He grabbed him by the throat and demanded instant payment.
29 “His fellow servant fell down before him and begged for a little more time. ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it,’ he pleaded. 30 But his creditor wouldn’t wait. He had the man arrested and put in prison until the debt could be paid in full.
31 “When some of the other servants saw this, they were very upset. They went to the king and told him everything that had happened. 32 Then the king called in the man he had forgiven and said, ‘You evil servant! I forgave you that tremendous debt because you pleaded with me. 33 Shouldn’t you have mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had mercy on you?’ 34 Then the angry king sent the man to prison to be tortured until he had paid his entire debt.
35 “That’s what my heavenly Father will do to you if you refuse to forgive your brothers and sisters[m] from your heart.”
Jesus, I know I can be that wicked servant, especially to the people closest to me. Why is that Lord? Why is my patience least with them? And Lord, that final line “from your heart”, I am weak there too. I say I forgive someone, I act like I forgive them, but the memory of some of the things they’ve done or said keep coming back.
Jesus, I know I need help in this. I know I am weak. I know You have forgiven me a huge debt. Help me to forgive from my heart Lord. Change me Jesus.
- Matthew 18:5 Greek in my name.
- Matthew 18:9 Greek the Gehenna of fire.
- Matthew 18:10 Some manuscripts add verse 11, And the Son of Man came to save those who are lost. Compare Luke 19:10.
- Matthew 18:15 Greek If your brother.
- Matthew 18:15 Some manuscripts do not include against you.
- Matthew 18:18 Or bind, or lock.
- Matthew 18:18 Or loose, or open.
- Matthew 18:20 Greek gather together in my name.
- Matthew 18:21 Greek my brother.
- Matthew 18:22 Or seventy-seven times.
- Matthew 18:24 Greek 10,000 talents [375 tons or 340 metric tons of silver].
- Matthew 18:28 Greek 100 denarii. A denarius was equivalent to a laborer’s full day’s wage.
- Matthew 18:35 Greek your brother.