Extended reading: Matthew 18:6-9 consequences of sin
10 “See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven.
12 “What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? 13 And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. 14 In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should perish.
Throughout His ministry Jesus advocates for those who are weaker than others—children. He does not specifically mean those who are biologically children, however, in that He perceives that all people who have not yet reached full maturity are children—in truth, we are all children. In fact, as Christians following His teachings in our daily lives, we are encouraged to be like children. This means that we are to avoid becoming poisoned by the world in which we live and continue to carry (and share) a grain of hope for “better”.
We are, therefore, to remain vigilant so we do not cause harm to those we perceive have a lesser understanding. We are to be willing to share and assist in the hope of finding what Jesus seeks from us. Often, however, it is the “child” that gives us a greater perspective.
Now for the “sheep”. Throughout my life, I have been strongly encouraged to be obedient and dutiful with a promise of “my just reward”. I, therefore, struggled for some time with the concept in this passage that indicates that faithful and obedient followers might be “abandoned” so that the needs and safety of the recalcitrant ones might be attended to. This is very contrary to human nature….a thought that should have immediately alerted me many decades ago to the “rightness” of leaving 99 for the sake of one. We are not being abandoned permanently….merely for a short while….and we are not being left alone….we are safe within the “pack” and the collectively ability to reason our path until His presence returns. We never are outside of His thoughts, but have been left resources to assist us with whatever arises. We have relative strength…the “lost” sheep is alone and weak until He finds them.
We are not to abandon those who find themselves in “bad” circumstances because of their own decisions. We are to heed the quiet whisper that tells us God has a task He is calling us to do. Always help others and don’t discount those we believe “deserve” to be wherever we find them. All of God’s children are worthy of help and assistance.
God, may we always listen for Your still small voice that convicts us to act in accordance with Your teachings. May we reach out without judgment to those who are imprisoned or experiencing problems. Help us remember that this world holds no despair so great that Your love cannot overcome it…..likewise, we do not possess a wisdom so immense that someone else cannot teach us. We need to be constantly open to Your guidance and remember that You love even the least of us. You are with us always, even unto the end of our existence as we know it. Amen.