by Doy Moyer

According to Jesus, children are special and need to be protected. In Mark 9:36-37, we read this: And he took a child and put him in the midst of them, and taking him in his arms, he said to them, “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me.

He also said, “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea” (Mark 9:42), followed by the hard teaching that if something is causing you to sin (hand, foot, eyes), then cut it off or pluck it out because that is infinitely better than going to hell (Mark 9:43-48).

Notice the nature of the point: "Whoever causes these little ones who believe in me to sin…" Children will come to Jesus. They will love Jesus and believe -- until someone does something to them that moves them into disbelief. Sadly, children are often victimized and oppressed by those who know better, by those who have power over them, and by those who are more concerned about their own selfish and ungodly desires and purposes than by God’s.

This means that adults can destroy the faith of children by the way we treat them and teach them. We can be the reason they move from belief to stumbling disbelief. And if we do that, we see how Jesus feels about it.

If we can cause children to stumble, then we had better pay extra close attention to how we treat them and act around them. They are watching and learning, and all of us who are adults are spiritually and morally responsible for our behavior around them. What we say to them and how we act around them will have lasting effects, good or bad. Treat children as Jesus did. Receive them as God’s children and show them the love, honor, and respect they deserve as God’s image-bearers.

To abuse children in any way is to incur the wrath of our Lord. Better that a millstone be hung around our necks and throw into the sea than to do anything that could jeopardize the faith of these precious little ones. Protect them. Stand up for them. That’s what Jesus did.

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