Humility is the way into the Kingdom

Matthew 18:1-14

Jerry A Collins




²                 What does it meant to become a child?

²                 What does it mean to cause one to stumble?

²                 Do we have any status in heaven?


One of the most moving scenes I have ever witnessed was the funeral of Princess Di. Two and a half billion people were estimated to have witnessed this around the world. I watched riveted while her two boys followed her Hearst through the silent streets of London. She was probably the most well known and even loved person on the planet at the time. She had world status and all the glamour associated with it—beautiful, adorable, classy, and compassionate. In this world we get caught up in status and power. We have symbols of it all around us from the kind of car we drive to the kind of watch we wear, to the kind of college we attend. For the believer, status in this world is not nearly as important as our status in eternity—in heaven with God. How do we attain status in heaven? We are going to learn that status with God is quite different than it is with the world. The disciples had engaged themselves in conversation about power and position in God’s kingdom for themselves (Mt 18:1; 23:11; Mk 9:34; Lk 9:46; 22:24). Here is a question and answer session between Jesus and His disciples about that status.


On another occasion in Mk 9 Jesus overhears them arguing about who should be most prominent in God’s kingdom. In that case like this one the disciples having witnessed Jesus miracles, having heard His teaching, having the evidence that He is the One promised to come, are occupied now with the idea of status in His kingdom. They are jockeying for position in it. They are concerned with who would be the greatest. Something had set off this rivalry—possibly Jesus attention to the three disciples and to Peter as the rock. But these kinds of questions came from a group of men who had a limited knowledge of the kingdom. They are now in competition.


Jesus responded to their question with a demonstration—a child vs 2

Child like faith is the key to greatness with God. Using this child demonstrates that conventional methods for greatness do not apply in God’s kingdom. 1) A child has no status. It is as if Jesus is saying ‘he will be greatest who has the least idea he is great’. 2) A child is powerless. With little power and influence a child cannot make it on his own. There is a sense of helplessness and vulnerability. 3) A child is dependent and receptive. When they trust someone they believe them and listen to them. The point of the child illustration is ‘humility’.

Childlike humility is essential for entrance into heaven vs 3

‘Converted’ means to turn or to turn around. It is a common word in Acts for conversion. It is not about power plays, political maneuvering, independence, or asserting one’s rights but an attitude of humility, a lowering of oneself to enter the kingdom of God. You cannot enter on any other basis. Salvation is designed to tear away our pride. We can do absolutely nothing to gain entrance but only humbly receive the gift of eternal life offered by God to us. That is how you get in. This is still a huge need in communication with religious people today.  The reason most people will never have a relationship with God is because they don't see themselves as lost or understand they are separated from God. God doesn't grade on a curve
"Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect" (Matthew 5:48). Can we just keep trying to get better? Here's the problem with that. Suppose every sin I've committed is represented by a rock laid on the floor of my living room. Pretty soon my living room would be full of rocks. If I decided to turn over a new leaf and commit half or a tenth of my sin, I'm still adding rocks to my living room, only at half or a tenth the rate. What I really need is to get the rocks out. I need to get rid of my sin. The only way to do that is by accepting Christ's death on the cross as the one and only punishment for it, not by committing less sin.

Childlike humility is necessary for greatness in heaven vs 4

Jesus does not condemn greatness in heaven He clarifies how that greatness is attained. Humility is the measure of greatness. A truly humble person is not concerned with issues of status, position, advantage, or authority. The difference between pride—the root of all evil, and humility—the root of all virtue, is what is the end point? and what is the source? Humility says all virtue begins and ends with God. Pride will try to steal some of that value for man. You cannot gain the kingdom by merit. The disciples have to change—they have to become like children in their heart attitudes. The person who does will be the greatest in the kingdom of God. The disciples have begun their journey to kingdom greatness by trusting the Lord but they have to set aside this rivalry and humble themselves.


Welcome those who have humbled themselves vs 5

Supporting believers who want to live with childlike faith is to welcome Christ who had this same attitude as He served here. We want to promote and encourage this kind of thinking and attitude and whenever we do that we are helping others attain greatness in the kingdom of God. We must not encourage competition or rivalry in the body of Christ. That is the worlds way to greatness but not God’s.

Don’t hinder another’s path to greatness in the kingdom vs 6

Children--the little ones here—are susceptible to danger and can stumble. So the warning is given to those who cause them to stumble in their discipleship. It may lead to serious sin and impede their spiritual progress bringing the greatest possible harm to them. They may ‘stumble’. To stumble means to cause to fall, to set a trap for, to entice—to cause them to sin. To replace an eternal perspective with an earthly one. The one responsible for this offense will have to answer to God. Because the crime is so great, that is, because they not only reject Jesus but seek to cause the little ones, believers, to sin and turn away from Christ and faith, it would be better for them to be drowned in the sea before doing this—than to commit these crimes and face judgment in the end. There is some advantage for a premature death of the wicked. The heavy millstone is a forceful image and points to the severity of guilt.

God wants us to have greatness and we only have this life to achieve in heaven. Getting in the way of another’s humility before God hinders the only path available for that greatness. For status with God is determined by humility in us.

1. Do not make status here your focus for if you do then that is all you will have. You will have none in heaven Mt 6.

2. Sin is the only thing that will keep you from greatness in heaven. Deal with it.

3. Never cause a fellow believer to stumble by putting one of the world’s obstacles or stumbling blocks before him—drunkenness, cheat business practices, seeking revenge, fornication, adultery, divorce remarriage.

4. You must become a child in the sense of humility to enter heaven.