04 Aug 2019
People in the world pay attention to the rich and powerful, but God's people are to care for the least and the lowest among them, for everyone is very precious to God. Therefore Jesus teaches His disciples not to despise anyone who believes in Him. They are also not to cause any one of them to sin. Instead, whoever receives one such child in His name receives Jesus Himself! Find out from this sermon how you can love God's people in a practical and concrete way. May your worship of God in the gospel fuel your love for His people!
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Matthew 18, introduces us to counter cultural values of the kingdom of God, that the ways of God are very different from the ways of the world. Today, we look at Matthew 18, verses 5 to 14 in how we are to treat one another in the church, in the family of God.
My two sons study in ACS Primary. And when I or my wife, we get a call from the school, it's usually not for anything good. So, we don't really want to receive any phone calls from them but the past one or two weeks or so, I, I received a call from his or Matthias' school teacher. She said, “Hi! Are you Matthias' daddy. I say, “I am.” And my heart dropped when I got that call! And then she said, “Matthias had had just fallen when he was playing during recess and he has hit his head on the floor.”
That was then when many images run through my mind. I imagine my son lying on the floor. I imagine blood oozing from the head. I imagine people crowding around him. I imagine him being quickly sent to the hospital via the ambulance. I imagine that I have many appointments but I will cancel all my appointments. I, I saw myself just dropping everything just to rush to be with Matthias. And I thought that would be a natural response of a father who loves his child, isn't it?
And it's the same, I think when it comes to God. God is so much for His people. He's always working all things for the good of His people. He's there to protect, to provide and to care for His people. This text before us speaks of God's love and attention and care for His people. For example, in Matthew 18 verse 14, “It is not the will of my Father who is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish.”
God is for His people, very much so. And so in this text, there are some instructions to Christians, to His people to treat their fellow brethren well. He says, for example in verse five, “Whoever receives one such child …” This child is a picture, an object lesson of those who humble themselves, to believe in Jesus. So He says, “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me.” You should receive My people, as if you're receiving me.
He also says, “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.” [Matthew 18:6] He also says, “See that you do not despise one of these little ones.” [Matthew 18:10] In short, I think Matthew 18, 5-14, really tells us, teaches us what it means to take care of God's people.
So, this is a simple message about how we are to relate to one another in the faith. How we are to treat and view one another in the church family. So, I'm going to start very simply from the bottom, verse 10, then to verse 6 and to the verse 5 as to the three simple instructions Jesus gave to His disciples.
1] Don’t Despise
If we are to take care of God's people together as a church as a people, then number one, let's take care not to despise one another. Don't despise one another! Clear statement in verse 10, “See that you do not despise one of these little ones.”
The word, ‘despise’ is a word that means to think down, ‘kataphroneō’ literally think down. In our modern day language, we would say, “Don't look down!” Or in Singapore language, it would be, it will be - don't or see him no up, 不要看不起他[bú yào kàn bú qǐ tā ] literal translation from Mandarin, but it means to look down on someone; think down on someone; despise someone.
Say, “Why is it that we are not to despise God's people, even though they may look poor, even though they may not be very educated, even though they may come from a different social economic status as you?” Don't despise them! Why? Because as you're going to see, they are very precious in God's eyes. He says, “For I tell you that in heaven, their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven.” [Matthew 18:10]
These little ones, these seemingly humble people, in this world despised by this world, they are actually very precious to God because God's angels are so much for them. “Their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven.” The Bible, this is a side note, alright. The Bible speaks of a world, an unseen world that is real. The Bible doesn't talk about aliens or extra-terrestrials, but the Bible does speak about angelic beings.
My son, recently got a microscope as a present from his auntie, my sis. And he was fascinated with the use of this microscope. So, one of the first things he put under the lens of the microscope, a bit gross lah, but he took his booger, a piece of it and put it under the microscope and he was amazed at what he could see under … I mean, it looks gross on macroscopic view but microscopic looks … Wah! Some of you like, “Ugh …” It looks a bit amazing and then when he was done with it, he went to the waters at the Botanic Gardens, scoop a little cup, brought it back, placed it under the microscope and he saw these amoebae-like creatures. And I said, “You better don't drink water from there anymore.” You really could see a whole world of creatures that you can't see with your naked eye.
There is a whole world you don't realize, you don't see but the Bible speaks of – angels. And what are angels for? Well, “Are they not all ministering spirits sent out to serve …” Who? “… the sake of those who are to inherit salvation.” [Hebrews 1:14] So, God has created angels and one of their purposes, functions is to serve the elect - God's people. And therefore take care that you do not despise God's people, no matter how lowly they may seem in this world. They are precious to God. Angels, their angels are beholding the face of the Father.
Now, by the way we don't believe that each one of you has an angel tagged to you, as if you have a John angel, Gabriel angel, Jason angel. That the angel just follow me, follow me to the kitchen, follow me to the dark … bedroom, follow me to the toilet. Not quite like that! But the teaching is that angels are before God, the Father and as and when needed, they will be dispatched, sent on a mission to serve those who are God's people.
So, but don't miss the point! The point Jesus is saying is that, “That my people, God's people are very precious. Don't despise them!” He accentuates that further in verse 12 and 13 when He says, “That if a man has lost a sheep, wouldn't He leave the 99 behind just to look for that one.” The emphasis I want you to see is in that one. In other words, every single one of His people is precious! It's not just those who are gifted; talented; famous; rich; powerful; knowledgeable.
God is saying, “Every little one of my people is precious, just like a shepherd would not hesitate to go after the one lost sheep and he delights in finding that one lost sheep. He rejoices over it, over more than the 99 that never went astray.” And then again in verse 14, “So it is not the will of My Father who is in heaven that one of these should perish.”
So, the reality that Christians we need to realize and to remind ourselves is that each one of you who is a believer, a follower of Jesus, you believe in His Name, you believe in His finished work on the cross, to save you from, from your sins, every single one of you is very precious, is very valuable, is of great worth. You say, “Why? Why are Christians of great worth to God?”
Is it because you're very smart? Is it because you're very handsome? Is it because you're very strong? Is it because you are very skilled in ministry; in preaching? Is it because you have done many things for God? What is the reason you and I who are believers of Jesus are precious and valuable and of great worth to God?
There's a song that we just sang and I like you to be reminded of the words you have just sung. The song is, ‘My Worth Is Not In What I Own’. The world today looks at worth as a function of how much you possess. So, if I've more cars, I have more worth. If I have more zeros in my bank account, I have more worth. If I have more bungalows, I've more worth. So, we define our worth in this life based on the possessions we have, based on how complete my family is, based on how accomplished I am in my office. The song reminds us actually in God's eyes, my worth is not in what I own.
The song goes to say, “My worth is not in what I own, not in the strength of flesh and bone but in the costly wounds of love at the cross.” My worth is seen in what Jesus had to do in order to save us from our sins. The wounds of love at the cross. The writer goes on to say, “My worth is not in skill or name, in win or lose, in pride or shame, but in the blood of Christ that flowed at the cross.”
Again, the value of each child of God is not in what I could do or what I have done but in what Jesus has done at the cross, where he shed His blood to save us from our sins. And in stanza three it says, “Two wonders here that I confess, my worth and my unworthiness. My value fixed - my ransom paid at the cross.”
Great words here, these are the two wonders, I hope you will grasp this morning. Number one, I am absolutely unworthy. I am a filthy sinner undeserving of God's favour. There is nothing I can do in my sinful nature that is of any value to the Holy God. I am unworthy! I am an enemy of God! I'm a sinner! All my so-called righteousnesses are like filthy rags, dirty pieces of cloth.
Now, if I just stay there, I will be very depressed. I will have no esteem. I would despair of life. But here is the other wonder that the Bible speaks of - my worth. Where is my worth found? Oh! Your value is fixed because your ransom is paid at the cross.
I am unworthy in and of myself, but I find my worth in what Jesus has done. So in short, what I'm saying here is that, “We are all unworthy of God, unworthy of Christ, but I have great worth because of Christ.” Because of His finished work, and because I'm so united in Him, in faith that when God sees me, He doesn't see the unworthy fellow so much, but He sees the all worthy Christ in me. And that is the worth of the Christian!
He's freed from having to earn acceptance and favour in this world, when he realizes this - my value fixed, my ransom is paid at the cross. Then you don't have to live your life as if you have to please your boss all the time. You don't have to live your life on social media, take nice pictures, show yourself very pretty and handsome, so that people give you a lot of likes. The antidote to that is knowing that I'm valued because of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Hey! You don't have to run that hamster race! You can get out of it, because you have your worth in the finished work of Christ. And so because each and every believer of Jesus is precious to God, we must be careful that we do not despise God's people. I like you to maybe remind yourself, I know this is a bit trite and a, a, corny, but I still want you to do that, would you? Could you turn to the person beside you and say, “You are absolutely precious to God!” Can you do that?
Hey! Don't say like, “Hah, hah, hah, you are precious!” It's real you know, if you believe in Jesus, you are precious to God because of what Jesus has done, alright! So, if the person sitting beside you is precious to God, see that you do not despise anyone who is a believer of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Now, can this happen in the church? Oh yes, absolutely. For example in James 2:3, “If you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing …” So, imagine someone who comes in with branded clothes, branded shoes, drives a Ferrari, has lots of jewellery hanging, the ear is coming down. Oh! It's sparkly everywhere. “Wah! This is a rich person, man!” And “If you pay attention to this person who looks rich and say, “You sit here in a good place, we have a nice seat for you.” And then you say to the poor man, “You stand over there or you sit down at my feet.””
In other words, you despise him. You make a distinction! You have a prejudice towards the rich and against the poor. Then according to James you dishonoured the poor man. This kind of prejudice is not befitting of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. That's not what a Christian should do!
Now in our church we are thankful. I think by and large, I don't see you guys see a poor men with torn shirt, lots of holes and you say, “Eee …” And, and you stay away. I don't see that so much but could it be that we can also despise someone else for other reasons.
Maybe that person does not speak as eloquently as you. Maybe he or she speaks too slowly for you, do you despise? Maybe someone is coming with a different understanding of the Bible. So, you feel you're more knowledgeable, do you then despise someone because he is less knowledgeable or perhaps even he holds some teachings differently or he views differently some teachings that you may hold to?
Could it be that we as a church may despise people who have some different understanding of the mode of baptism or the end times teachings or the way a church should be run? Do we then begin to despise? Or do we despise people for their music preferences? Oh this is an issue, right! How, maybe the young may say, “Aiyah! The old guys always sing so slow.” And the older guys may say, “Young, why you sing so loud?”
There's nothing wrong with different appetites and tastes. That's why you have Japanese food, Chinese food, Malay food, Western food. It's fine! Nothing. Is not like Japanese food is superior or Chinese food is inferior. It's just different! But it becomes wrong when we despise. So, you may have a different musical preference, but don't despise the other. It's very important that we are a multi-generational church where the young does not despise the old, neither does the old despise the young.
Maybe it's in also the way we express our worship in church, some people worship God like that [hands lifting very high] some people scared a bit, worship like that [hands lifting at shoulder height]. Some people worship like that [hands lifting at waist height], some people like that, very scared [hands inside pockets]. But there are different ways you worship, different bodily expressions. Different! But let's not what despise one another.
I think one of the great killers to church unity is when we take our differences and make them basis for despising one another. Let’s be careful, about that, alright! And I think we should be careful not only in the way we think; we speak, but also in the way we type - social media. And how that arrogance and that pride can manifest in putting down others. Now, we can defer but let it be out of a spirit of generosity and love, rather that, rather than of pride and despising. Alright, my time running by.
2]. Don’t Defile
So, if we are to take care one another of one another Jesus says, “Don't despise!” Number two, I like to suggest to you, He's saying, “Don't defile one another.” You say, “What in the world is this?” So, let me try to explain.
When I was in the Army, I was in the infantry. So, the infantry troops are those who walk and they attack with their rifles, generally speaking. So, when we come to an objective, enemy objective, we would need to conquer them. And the best way to do so is to spread out the Army, the soldiers so that with our rifles we fire at them, we kill as many enemies as we can. But we will need to capture it by moving towards them nearer and nearer and overcome them. That's how you fight as an infantry!
So, in graphical pictorial form, it may look like this. The soldiers are lined up to your left, enemy objective on your right and we are to proceed to kill. Now, you want to move towards your objective but you don't all move together, right? If all of them move together, you'll be dead. “Shoot me!” You don't do that! So, you have to sort of maintain a kind of suppressive fire on the enemy.
So, maybe the first half, they are planning to move forward, the lower half they will continue to fire. Very important to do that! And it's very important that you fire correctly. You fire straight. If you fire and you keep your enemy pinned down, then your friends; your comrades will move forward and then after that you will move as they fire and so on and so forth. We call this, ‘fire and movement’, right? One group fire, the other group move.
Now, I've forgot my SAF doctrines or whatever it is, so if I'm wrong, just pardon me. Something like that! So, they have fire movement. But like I said, the people who are firing, make sure they fire straight. Because if they, “Eh! Very shiok, I kill a lot!” And the rifle is going this way, if you're not careful, you are not pointing straight, you will, “Oh, oh!” Fire at some of your own people and cause them to die. We call this, ‘fratricide’, right? You kill your own people.
Now, we all understand that in war there will be casualties, people will die. That's part of war, that's part of warfare. But, it is very different when you are the cause of killing someone. Dying in war is natural but killing your own friends is not. It's not fun! It's not funny anymore. So, when it comes to sin it's the same, Jesus said, “Woe to the world for temptations to sin, for it is necessary that temptations come.” [Matthew 18:7]
Now, we live in a sinful; broken world, there will be plenty of temptations in the world, it is inevitable. But it is a totally different story if you are the reason why someone sins. So, we expect temptations in this world but don't be the one that anyhow shoot and shoot your own brother and sister in Christ. Don't be the reason to trip him up. Don’t be the cause of sin in his life. Do not provoke him in such a way that he becomes angry and sins against God. You get that! Don't commit spiritual fratricide.
So Jesus said, “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it will be better for him to drown.” [Matthew 18:6] Now, it's a very graphic picture, millstone fastened around the neck and drown. A millstone is that top stone you see that is used to crush and to grind wheat as the donkey pulls it around. So, it's something very, very heavy. And apparently, one of the ways the Romans will execute their criminals is to tie this millstone around someone's neck and let him drown. Terrible way to die!
The Chinese also has something similar – 猪笼[zhū long, pig cage in Mandarin] You all… how come you know ah? 进猪笼[jìn zhū long, enter the pig cage in Mandarin]. What is 进猪笼? Means you … it's usually for who? The adulterers, right! They, they keep him in this basket and then they throw the basket together with the people who have committed adultery, deep into the ocean.
So, similar concept. This speaks of something that is very, very bad, that's why you deserve such bad punishment. Such a tragic way to die. So Jesus said, “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it is better …” Now, I want to say, “Whilst drowning like this is bad. Jesus is saying, “It's better for him to drown like that, than for him to cause another person; another brother to sin.””
He is emphasizing, he's emphasizing the seriousness to which Christians need to pay attention to stumbling others. This is not a small matter! It is so important that if you do so, or if you find yourself going to do so, deal with it decisively, “Cut it off and throw it away.” It may be a very difficult thing to do, but you are to do it. You see, Jesus had previously taught His disciples about the 6th commandment - thou shalt not murder or kill, very good.
Superficially, we understand, ‘thou shall not kill’ as don't commit the act of murder. But Jesus plunged the depth of the commandment and say, “No! It's not just governing the act of killing, but it also governs your speech.” Because if you just say to someone, “You fool …” In Singapore we say, “You idiot! You stupid!” Aiyoh, that is the same as breaking the 6th commandment!
Or if you are angry with someone in your heart, that is already breaking the 6th commandment. And not only that, Jesus is saying, “If someone else is angry because of you, you have also broken the 6th commandment.” Wow! Hard to obey the law perfectly. In fact, it is impossible for man to obey the law perfectly because it's of such a high standard.
But the point I'm making is this - if you are the cause of someone else being in anger for an unrighteous reason, you have already committed sin, you've already broken the 6th commandment. And Jesus says, “If that be the case, stop whatever you are doing. Even if you wanted to go to church, even if you wanted to go to the temple, to offer a gift on the altar, leave your gift there, first be reconciled before you come back and worship.”
So, imagine yourself today, you and your wife had just quarrelled. She was late and you were screaming at her head. And, and all the way in the car ride, you were having World War II. And by the time you came to church because your family and your friends, your church people are here, your pastors are here, you put on a smile. And you think everything is okay, Jesus actually say to you, “First go back and be reconciled.”
So, if you want to, I can let you go now. No! No one would do that! But I, I want to tell you that's what Jesus is saying, it's so important that you do not be the cause of someone’s simmering anger. First be reconciled! It's serious!
I think this must have been a kind of a blow to the disciples because you remember earlier on, just before this, what were they doing? They were quarrelling, quarrelling about what? Who should be first. I can imagine themselves just lifting themselves up, despising the other. Maybe saying to Peter, “You always say the wrong things one, lah!” “John, you're such a coward!” And they and they might have said something unkind things, probably.
And so, Jesus sort of a puts a lid over their pride; their squabbles; tells them that he who humbles himself like a child, he's the one who is greatest. And be careful about stumbling your brethren, it's a serious sin. So don't defile one another, don't cause one another to sin because there are serious consequences.
A story is told of a lady who got a pet parrot; a very smart parrot. A parrot who can talk a lot and speak a lot, has a mind on its own, smart parrot. But the parrot is very nasty, the parrot is very naughty. By the time they got home, the parrot had been scolding the lady, scolding her all kinds of bad things - how she's ugly and lousy driver and everything. And she began, this parrot began to peck her all over until the lady could not take it anymore. She opened the fridge door and stuffed the parrot into the freezer and closed the door.
The parrot didn't stop! The, the parrot just kept on, “Yak, yak, yak, yak,” all the way until 10 seconds later, it went all silent. The lady wondered - did I just kill my parrot? So, she opened the fridge door, the freezer door and the parrot came out with eyes teary and stunned and frightened and yet docile at the same time, and said, “Ma'am, I'm so sorry for being nasty to you. Would you please forgive me?” “Of course, I will.” “Ma'am, can I ask you a question? “What is it?” “What did the chicken do?”
Now, some of you would not get it, it's okay, after the service, you will get it. But sometimes we need to know the consequences and be warned about it before we would make changes. So, Jesus is really giving you the consequences here. It's better for you that you should deal with it decisively, alright! So, don't defile! Don't be the cause of another brother or sister living in sin. That's how we love one another. We don't despise one another and we don't trip one another up in our spiritual lives.
3]. Don’t Deny
Finally I want to say, don't deny one another. Now, the first two are about what we should not do, the third is actually what we should do. Don't deny them the necessary care; support; provisions. Because Jesus said in verse 5, “Whoever receives one such child in My name receives me.”
This receiving, I think is a receiving of hospitality, of providing these little ones; God's people. Actually, if you think about it, many of God's people struggle through life, maybe not in Singapore. We are an amazingly blessed country, materially speaking, but there must be lots of God's people all over the world who need provisions and protection and support, especially to those who are living in persecuted lands. And I think this is of particular interest and relevance, we need to receive God's people who are suffering need.
In Matthew 10:40, this receiving, is a receiving of the apostles. How they go from city to city preaching and they probably have nothing - not enough food, not enough clothings, not enough shelter. “But those who receive the apostles are receiving Christ and receiving the Father who sent Christ.” [Matthew 10:40] This is about hospitality.
Later on in Matthew 25:35-36, Jesus would say, “For I was hungry and you gave Me food, I was thirsty and you gave Me drink. I was a stranger and you welcomed Me, naked, clothed Me, sick, visited Me, in prison and you came to Me.”
I want you to notice that receiving God's people, providing hospitality does not need to be complicated. It is found in very simple things like food and drink and welcome and clothing and visiting. Very simple things! You don't need … hospitality is not about sharks fins or bird’s nests, it's not about caviars or Universal Studios. It's something simple that any single one of us could do!
And the cool thing about hospitality is that when we give food to the needy, drink to our brethren who does not even have drink, you do it not for them or to them per se but you did it for Jesus. “You gave it to Me, Me, Me.” [Matthew 25:35-36] It's clear, isn't it?
Now, I'm pretty sure if Jesus is to come back today and live amongst us, we would all be dying to treat Jesus to a meal. I'm pretty sure! Now, people today pay, I'm told $3.4 million to have lunch with Warren Buffett. I think I'll do anything to have a meal with Jesus. But the cool thing is you don't have to wait for Jesus to come back. He's not going to come back that way, alright. You don't have to wait to do that with Jesus because He says, “If you give food to the needy, to My brethren, to the little ones, you did it to Me.”
“I mean, you give a drink, you did it to Me. When you visited a brethren in the hospital, you did it to Me.” It's so encouraging in this church, like … we were just praying for someone who was hospitalized that there were brethren in this church who came to me and say, “Hey, could you tell me where he is and I like to visit?” “Do you know him?” “No, I'm not, I've only met him once in church, but I want to visit him.”
I thought, that is so cool! And I think it is so exciting because when God sees him do that, He sees him doing that to Him, to self. Well, it's a wonderful thing that we could serve Jesus by serving His people. So Jesus said, “Truly I say to you as you did it to one of the …” I love this particular addition, “… to one of the least.” [Matthew 25:40]
You see, the world today wants to do good to those who are VIPs, to those who are rich and influential and famous and powerful. But the ‘Upside Down Kingdom’ is about doing service to those who are the least in the kingdom of God because when you do it to them even though they are despised, even though they are not educated, even though they're not rich, you did it to Me. “And as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.” [Matthew 25:45]
I want to remind you, Matthew 25 is really a passage talking about how Jesus will divide the goats and the sheep. The sheep, on His right hand and the goats on the left. How do you tell the sheep and the goats apart? Is it that they profess faith in Jesus? Both profess faith in Jesus, but that distinction is in the sheep did it unto the least of My brothers and the goats did not do it unto the least of My brothers.
So, on the day of judgment, it is not just your profession, it is not just what you said, it is your life. Jesus is saying, “My people love Me and will do it to My people.” And that is the acid test on that day of judgment. So, the end of it all I suppose can be easily summarized by Galatians 6:10, “So then, let as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone and especially to those who are of the household of faith.”
Now, by the grace of God there are many of you here who are very hospitable to newcomers. Wonderful job! I mean one of the great things I hear is, someone who is new, they appreciate the way they are received. Now we are pushy, we, we don't want to be a pushy church, that wants to barge into one's life, but we want to be readily available to serve You in any way we can. We are thankful for many brethren here who have the gift of hospitality, who reach out to newcomers well.
But I want to warn against also a danger that we are so focused on newcomers that we neglect our own people. Now, we are to do good to all. The Bible says, “Love, even your enemies.” But, “Do good to everyone and especially to those who are of the household of faith.” [Galatians 6:10] It is a great privilege for me, if I should know someone in church, someone who is my brother or sister in Christ, who has difficulties in life and I could be of help. I see it is a great privilege!
I hope that we as a church see it as a privilege that God would give us the opportunity to serve Him by serving our brothers and sisters in Christ. “So, whoever receives one such child …”, [Matthew 18:5] someone who may be despised by the world, let us remember it's all about serving Jesus. I think that's what a great church looks like - when we love one another, when we do not despise one another.
We, we know we are different! We have different education, different race, different backgrounds, different even doctrinal beliefs in certain matters of the faith. But whilst we differ, we do not despise! And then as a church we do not, we are very careful that we do not offend one another. Now, Christians are not easy to live with, right? We are actually very difficult people because we all still sinners.
And I did this in church, I like you to do it again. Can you look at each other and say to each other, “I'm not very nice.” But at the same time, after you say …so now, combine two things, alright, “I am not very nice, you are very precious to God.” Alright, can you do that? “I am not very nice, you are very precious to God.” So, learn to bear with one another and learn to love one another. Now, it’s not easy!
When we come to church, we have a higher expectation, right? I've seen many people get upset after being in church because you say, “Wah! Church people also like that ah!” “Wah, how can Christians be like that!” The reality is we are still sinners. And I understand the higher levels of expectation and that's why we are upset with our spouses and not so much with strangers because expectations are higher. “You should know me, what?” And that's where the problem comes. But in the church, let us recognize that we are all sinners under construction, saints in progress. And well, value one another, the way God sees us and take care of God's little ones.
Let's bow for a word of prayer together. The central message of the Bible is really God's love. God's love for unworthy; undeserving sinners, like as we are. Isaac Watts say that, “How could God love such a worm, as I.” And really, we are worse than worms before the Holy God. But that's why His love is so amazing! His love is given to those who are absolutely unworthy, that while we were yet sinners, he would send His Son Jesus Christ to die for us.
So, I say today to my brothers and sisters in Christ, “There are people around us who you feel do not deserve Your love; Your forgiveness; Your kindness, but we do it, not because they deserve it, we do it because God deserves it, Christ deserves it. Just as God has showered unconditional love upon you because of Jesus Christ, let us offer forgiveness and kindness and grace to those around us, who in your eyes do not deserve it, because they are precious to God.
They may be poor but they are precious to God. They may not be educated but there are precious to God. They may smell, but they are precious to God. They may worship in a different style from yours, but they are precious to God. They may hold different doctrinal positions in peripheral matters of the faith, but they are precious to God. Be careful not to despise them. Be careful not to offend or to stumble them. Be careful that you would serve them and receive them and meet their needs. That's what an Acts church is all about, that we are willing to sacrifice and to serve one another.
Maybe some of you today struggle with the problem of esteem and self-worth. You're trying to find self-worth in this world. You are trying to prove yourself, to your boss, to your classmates, to your friends, to Facebook, to Instagram. You are always trying to be thinner, prettier because otherwise you feel you're of no value. Well, let me say this, “In and of ourselves, we are worthless, we are sinners. We have been corrupt and ruined by sin. But the great news is that your worth is found in Jesus Christ. My value fixed, my ransom paid at the cross.”
I hope this, this morning, you will grasp these two wonders - my worth and my unworthiness. And if you're here today for the first time or if you're not a follower of Jesus, the great message of the Bible is - don't earn your way to heaven, you can't! You can't even keep the 6th commandment properly, let me say this. But you can be a child of God today. How? As Jesus said, “If you humble yourself like this little child. If you acknowledge your spiritual bankruptcy, when you recognize that there is nothing you can do to deserve God's favour but you wholly rely on Jesus’ name. When you wholly depend on his finished work on the cross, you will enter the kingdom of heaven.” This is grace! This is the Gospel! This is love! Would you come to Him, by faith today?
Father, grant to people today, repentance and faith that they may follow Jesus and be part of Your Kingdom. Encourage those today who are struggling with worth and value and esteem in life and turn their eyes away from themselves to Jesus and His finished work on the cross. And mature this church, so that we treat one another, not based on how others treat us but based on how You have given Your Son for us. Help us to love one another, so that the world may know we are Your disciples. Make this church a community of divine love. So bless each one this morning, we thank You and pray all this in Jesus’ Name. Amen!
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