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Commands of Christ

Despise Not Little Ones

Where is this command found?

“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.”

Matthew 18:10

Applying This Command

Despising a little one begins by thinking that they are not very important or valuable. Jesus countered this concept by stating that the angels who are assigned to little ones have direct access to the face of God in heaven. (See Matthew 18:10.)

Despising little ones is caused by thinking that they have little or nothing to contribute to our lives and that we are more important than they are. In answer to this, Jesus declares, “Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3).

To despise a little one means that we have an attitude of pride. The sin of pride stirs up God’s wrath against us and brings swift punishment. God cast out Satan from heaven because of pride, and Adam and Eve were driven out of the Garden of Eden because they aspired to be “like gods” by eating the forbidden fruit. Jesus pointed out that it is the humble attitude of a little one that characterizes those who enter into the kingdom of heaven. (See Matthew 18:4.)

The motivation to despise a little one often comes when our personal freedoms are limited because of their needs or weaknesses. If we are obligated to make adjustments in our schedules or choices of activities in order to advance the welfare of a little one, we tend to get frustrated and resentful, unless we view our sacrifices as being done for the Lord Jesus Christ. Thus, Jesus stated, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me” (Matthew 25:40).

Bible Verses for Meditation

In addition to meditation on Matthew 18:10, meditating on the verses below will provide you with further insight and understanding of Christ’s command: Despise Not Little Ones.

Matthew 18:3–4

“… Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”

Romans 14:10

“But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.”

I Corinthians 4:7

“For who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?”

Mark 9:35

“And he sat down, and called the twelve, and saith unto them, If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all.”

Romans 15:1

“We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves.”

Matthew 19:14

“But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.”

I Peter 5:5

“… Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.”

Related Episodes

From the Podcast

Dive deeper into the command Despise Not Little Ones with these episodes from the Commands of Christ podcast!

Study Question

Q: What is the significance of God using the term "little ones" to refer to little children, young believers, and older Christians? (See Matthew 18:1, I John 2:1.)

This command was initiated by the question that the disciples asked Jesus: “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” (Matthew 18:1). Their perception of greatness was no doubt influenced by the standards of the secular world, in which power, money, and prestige are perceived as being equal to greatness. It was at this point that Jesus “called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, 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. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:2–4).

The Greek word for converted is epistrepho, whose root word, strepho, means “to twist, i.e., turn quite around or reverse.” To convert a heart and mind is to turn them from man’s way of thinking to God’s way of thinking. The Lord says, “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:9). The entire thinking and attitude of the disciples had to be turned around for them to become a part of the jurisdiction of God’s rule in His kingdom.

The word little in this command does not primarily refer to a person’s stature or age, but to the attitude of his heart. God wants all believers to view themselves as little ones, because we all fall short of the infinite wisdom of God. Therefore, to despise another little one is to judge ourselves, because in God’s sight, we truly are little.

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