Do not despise these little ones
As I have said before, Little ones here means the children of God or other Christians. This is a warning from God Himself about how we treat other Christians.
Despise: to look down on or to not consider them worthy to care about.
It is literally an attitude of not caring what happens to someone else. You do not care if their life is destroyed or because it is their own fault for the mess they are in, you do not help them.
Jesus is continuing to teach the disciples, who were worried more about themselves than each other, to put others first.
Philippians 2:3-4 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
We despise others when:
1) We show favoritism
James 2:1-8 My brothers,[a] show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, 3 and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, “You sit here in a good place,” while you say to the poor man, “You stand over there,” or, “Sit down at my feet,” 4 have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? 5 Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him? 6 But you have dishonored the poor man. Are not the rich the ones who oppress you, and the ones who drag you into court? 7 Are they not the ones who blaspheme the honorable name by which you were called?8 If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well.
See Also Acts 10:34-35
The idea that James was talking about was looking at someone’s appearance or status and treating them a little more favorable than you would someone who may not have enough money. Churches sometimes look to those who are wealthy, athletic or have a high place in society and treat them differently than others. God has warned us not to do that but it is always a temptation in our society to place others as more special because of ability or social status.
The Apostle Paul faced this issue because his appearance was ridiculed by people.
2 Corinthians 10:10 For they say, “His letters are weighty and strong, but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech of no account.”
Galatians 4:12-14 Brothers,[c] I entreat you, become as I am, for I also have become as you are. You did me no wrong. 13 You know it was because of a bodily ailment that I preached the gospel to you at first, 14 and though my condition was a trial to you, you did not scorn or despise me, but received me as an angel of God, as Christ Jesus.
Paul had some sort of problem that was causing people to have a hard time looking at him and he praised them because they looked past the outer appearance and took him in as if they were taking in Christ. That is what it means when you accept one of these little ones, it is as if we are accepting Christ.
2) We neglect their needs
1 John 3:17-18 But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? 18 Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.
The need is not always to give money or food sometimes it is time and compassion. To give them a call when they are hurting or a word of encouragement when they are down are legitimate needs that we cannot overlook.
3) We judge them for the sins they committed
Read vs 12-14
If a man has a hundred sheep
The idea of sheep is twofold and it is the care we need from God and it is also the care that Pastors are to have for their people.
1 Peter 5:1-4 So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: 2 shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight,[a] not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you;[b] not for shameful gain, but eagerly; 3 not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. 4 And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.
It is very easy to look at the mess someone has made of their lives and say they deserved it. “They made their bed now they can lie in it.” Our attitude should be that of Christ Jesus who did not come to prove Himself right but to set us back in a right relationship with God.
Matthew 12:20 a bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not quench, until he brings justice to victory;
Jesus used this example of things that normal people would throw away He said He would not. Jesus does not care how broken or burned out you are because you are still valuable to Him. Jesus is the ultimate hoarder who sees the value in everything He owns. We tend to throw people away if they mess up or to just let them leave if they choose to.
Does he not leave the 99
The idea is that the Shepherd has an internal instinct that even without counting He leaves to go find the one. It is those moments that God puts someone on your mind that you have to act and see what is going on with them.
When a sheep was found the shepherd would pour oil on the wounds, wrap up the broken leg and carry the sheep all the way back to the rest of the flock.
It was not an easy task and neither is helping some people out of the mess they are in because of the choices they have made.
James 5:19-20 My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, 20 let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.
It does not matter why or how the sheep went astray it is our job to go and get them.
Rejoices when He finds it: If God throws a party when someone turns back to Him, than so should we.
This is similar to the prodigal son who came home and the father threw a party. The other brother was mad that so much attention was given to the brother who messed up, while he served faithfully. Although we like to judge the older brother, we do the same thing when we look down on people who return to church instead of embracing them.
If it is a big deal to God when people return, then it should be a big deal to us. The greatest joy our church should experience is when we see those who are not Christians come to Christ and those who have fallen away from Christ come home.
Will of God that no one should perish (2 Peter 3:9)
Perish: Means Total destruction or Non-permanent ruin or loss.
When we fall into sin it affects our usefulness to Him and the church. Your sin can destroy your marriage, job, family, and so forth. The perish here is not lost of your soul in Hell but the perish of your life here on earth. This is why D.A. Carson says that this passage is dealing with people in the church and the story in Luke 15 is dealing with people that do not know Christ.
Galatians 6:1 Brothers,] if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.
Our job is to go rescue them from the pit they have fallen in before things get worse and before more predators come around and finish them off. When we begin to take sin seriously as God does we will see the effects of what sin has done then we will have compassion and go and help others.
The reason we should care is because God cares for each one of us individually
Read vs 10
Although many want to talk about a personal guardian angels we need to be careful with that idea because there are only two passages of scripture that you can turn to for it and they are usually taken out of context. But we can say that God does have angels at His disposal to care for His children. The fact that God uses angels to care for us shows how much He does care. Our focus should not be on the angels but on God.
Who do you know that no longer follows after Christ?
What is God asking you to do to help them out of the pit they are in?
Our job is to go and try and rescue them before things get worse.