Christian Universe ™
The Least Of These
April 05, 2009
People who love to impress others and seek praise of men are low in the eyes of God. Those who stoop to serve their brothers and sisters in Christ, as well as their fellow man, are exalted in God's eyes. Which path do you choose in this life?
The Least Of These
a sermon by Bernie Parsons
presented to the Globe church of Christ on 04/05/2009
In my last lesson, I spoke of small things, and how they can grow into big things. Recall that I referred to the parable of the mustard seed.
Matthew 13:31: “Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field:
32: Which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof.”
This caused me to think about the expressions “the least of these” and “the last shall be first”. I want to address those phrases today.
Jesus said: Matthew 20:16: “So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen.”
Jesus taught humility over pride.
Matthew 18:2: “And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them,
3: And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.
4: Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”
We don’t become great in the eyes of God by making a great name for ourselves among men. Men who rise to the top and get the attention of multitudes often do so by walking all over people to get to the top. They often lie, cheat, and steal to get there. Some destroy the lives of others in order to trample on their bodies as they climb the ladder of success.
Jesus said that we, in order to be great in God’s kingdom, must become like little children. Children are generally forgiving and tend to make up quickly after a disagreement. They usually share their toys, or even their food, with their playmates. While we are on that subject, when was the last time that you, as an adult Christian, shared your food, or even your “toys”, with someone else?
The apostle Paul understood that, although Jesus chose him personally, and taught him the gospel that he was to preach to the world, he was still nothing without Christ.
1 Corinthians 15:8: “And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.
9: For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.
10: But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.
11: Therefore whether it were I or they, so we preach, and so ye believed.”
Ephesians 3:1: “For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles,
2: If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward:
3: How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words,
4: Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ)
5: Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit;
6: That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel:
7: Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power.
8: Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ;
9: And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ:
10: To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God,”
Paul humbled himself in order to preach the gospel to the Gentile world. He referred to himself as the least of the apostles, and the least of all of the saints. He never forgot that he had once persecuted the church of Jesus Christ.
In fact, here is his description as to how he handled his situation.
1 Corinthians 9:19: “For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more.
20: And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law;
21: To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law.
22: To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.
23: And this I do for the gospel's sake, that I might be partaker thereof with you.”
Paul became one of the people among whom he dwelt and taught. He lived like they lived, ate what they ate, and used that influence to bring them to Christ. We must likewise humble ourselves, and making ourselves the least of all saints, and even more so, those of us who teach and preach the gospel of Christ.
Jesus warned spiritual leaders of thinking too highly of themselves, and seeking glory.
Matthew 23:1: “Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples,
2: Saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat:
3: All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not.
4: For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.
5: But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments,
6: And love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues,
7: And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi.
8: But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren.
9: And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven.
10: Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ.
11: But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant.
12: And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.”
If you read the rest of Matthew 23, you will see that Jesus pronounced a series of woes, or curses, upon the Jewish spiritual leadership of His day. It seems that, although they taught the word of God to the populace, they tended to disregard it, or change parts with which they did not totally agree, replacing it with their own doctrines.
If we make ourselves out to be big leaders and gurus, men who must be followed, then we merely exalt ourselves. We shall be brought low. On the other hand, if we will humble ourselves, making ourselves the servant of others, God will raise us up one day.
We do that by being good stewards of that given into our hands by God.
Luke 16:10: “He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much.
11: If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches?
12: And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another man's, who shall give you that which is your own?
13: No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.
14: And the Pharisees also, who were covetous, heard all these things: and they derided him.
15: And he said unto them, Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God.”
We must serve God by serving our fellow man. We must engage in leadership through service. If we do not do well here in this life, and this world, we will not be fit to perform in the next world, in eternity.