Matthew 18:10 Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven.
As part of the body of Christ we must take great care in how we treat our brothers and sisters in the church. It is not an accident that the above passage is one of Jesus’ first sermons specifically directed to the church. He recognized the challenge that we would encounter when interacting with one another.
The word ‘despise’ conveys the meaning of looking down with contempt on another. It also means to regard as negligible, worthless or distasteful. Such an attitude is accepted in many avenues of life in our modern world, but should not be present in our churches. Remember, that we are called out to live differently as disciples of Christ.
What are some ways that we despise or look down on out fellow believers? One way is by being a respecter of persons? In the church setting this generally occurs when people separate themselves or isolate others by forming cliques. It is human nature to gravitate towards people that are most like you. As a high school teacher I witness this phenomena daily. We want to associate with those who share the same interests, backgrounds, upbringings, etc. But discipleship requires us to step out of this comfort zone and embrace all members within our local body of believers.
Earlier in Matthew 18, Jesus says that it is better for us to have a millstone hanged around our neck and drown than offend one of his children. Those that make up our congregations should feel loved valued when in our midst and we must do all within our ability to avoid offending them. The church of the Lord Jesus Christ is to be a shelter from the storms of life and a welcome change from all of the contention and divisions that exist in our world.
James writes, “My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons (James 2:1).” When we assemble with the saints, all natural differences should be checked at the door. There are no big “I’s” in the church. We must remember that we share the common bond of being sinners saved by the grace of God. Before the King of Kings we are equal. We all deserved eternal condemnation. Yet Christ died to save those who were elected in Him before the foundation of the world. In Ephesians 2, Paul references Christ as, “our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us (v. 14).” Jew, Gentile, rich, poor, famous or unknown; all are equal through the blood of Christ!
God help us to break carnal habits and take time to minister to everyone that the He allows us to have contact with in His church. Next Sunday I encourage you to adjust some of your old habits to facilitate this change. Relocate your seating during public worship and fellowship to position yourself near new visitors or closer to those that you have had little prior contact. This move shows that you value others and desire closer fellowship. It is also a good practice to purpose to visit and/or communicate with all members of your church on a regular basis. Perhaps creating a list or schedule can assist you in this practice. It is amazing what a small change such as this can accomplish. I am certain that the Lord will bless any move in this direction. It is not just the job of the pastor to make sure that everyone is visited. We all have the blessed responsibility to embrace all of our brothers and sisters in Christ.
Michael D. Green, Jr.
Fort Wayne PBC