Being called a little child can be offensive, but that is exactly what we are spiritually.
[4:1] Listen, my children [Solomon speaking], to a father’s instruction;
pay attention and gain understanding.
 I give you sound learning,
so do not forsake my teaching.
 When I was a boy in my father’s [David’s] house,
still tender, and an only child of my mother [Bathsheba],
 he taught me and said,
“Lay hold of my words with all your heart;
keep my commands and you will live.”
Yesterday in Sunday’s Cool (Sunday School), we were looking at Matthew 18. In that chapter, the disciples asked Jesus who the greatest of them was in the kingdom. Jesus took a small child into His lap and told them that they must become like that child in order to be part of His kingdom. What was He saying (to them and us)?
- Children had no rights; we must give up our “rights” in order to accept His kingdom.
- Children trust with pure hearts; we must be willing to trust completely, too.
- Children don’t need to know why, but they trust the person to know why; we must do the same with God.
The next portion of Scripture had to do with causing another child to stumble, in this case, the religious leaders who were keeping the people from believing and following Jesus. He then broadened His approach to include anything that tempts us away from Him. Jesus used hyperbole in order to get His point across. Let’s read it:
8 If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life maimed or crippled than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire. 9 And if your eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell.
The hyperbole that Jesus uses in this passage is extreme. One would think that these verses warn against hell, which they do, but not in the way we usually understand hell. “Fire” is “pur” and is defined as “the fire of God; He that transforms into light and likeness with Himself.” It gives the concept of God being a consuming fire that consumes all of a person’s dross, thus purifying the person (see Hebrews 12:29) like silver (Psalm 12:6). Painful, yes. Condemning, no.
As we talked, it became apparent that our view of hell in this passage was about more than just beyond the grave. It called to attention the fact that we are eternal beings right now, living in either heaven (walking with Christ) or hell (walking without Christ). Jesus is burning out the dross and transforming us into light so that we become children of light (Ephesians 5:8). We are becoming like Jesus.
Jesus points out things in our lives that tempt us and He asks us to give them up, or to allow Him to help us put guards around them. He asks that we look to Him for strength and patient endurance. We are to keep in mind that we are to give “joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. 13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1:12-13).
Remember that how we think determines our actions. Keeping this passage in mind helps us to focus our sights on Jesus and keep them there.
Abba, I live by this verse and look forward to its realization in my life. May I keep You and Your plan in mind as I walk through each day; it will help me keep my eyes focused on You, Jesus. You are the Beginner and Finisher of my faith. Amen.