There are quite a few extremes in these verses, but before we get to those, let’s talk about the children. Jesus speaks about the importance of children and their upbringing in the faith from vs. 1 all the way through vs. 14. In vs. 2 he physically puts a child in front of those who are near him and says “unless you change…” The emphasis was on us changing so that we could “become humble”. The humility of knowing that you don’t know is what Jesus underlines. This trait is found in children. One of my favorite times of the week is chapel time with the children. They do not know the Bible stories and are always so excited to act them out. They love to learn, they love to be together, and it is absolutely contagious.
Jesus not only recommends our changing to be more like children, but has his harshest words for those who just might lead children astray. Kids who are caught in the crossfire of a divorce often find themselves with scars that are difficult to heal. Jesus uses the image of the lost sheep to describe a child who has strayed and gone from the faith and the effort that Jesus is willing to undergo in order to bring him/her back to the fold. As vs. 14 states: “So it is not the will of my Father in heaven that one of these little ones should be lost.”
Jesus switches gears at vs.15 and addresses conflict within the church. If we are upset with a member of the church we can’t let it simmer, we have to approach them directly, one on one (vs.15). If that doesn’t help, and to be honest probably 95% of the time it does help, then you ask someone to go with you. I would guess that this would help probably 100% of the time. But we often skip the first step of going by ourselves because we feel like we need a little more support so we immediately skip to the second step. That isn’t what Scripture tells us, in fact, if we do skip the first step, then we are actually going against Scripture and causing the other person to feel defensive and so we force them to act negatively.
Hand in glove with this verse is Jesus’ admonishment to forgive people an infinite amount of times. Anytime a member of the church sins against you, it is our responsibility to forgive them an infinite amount of times. Now, that does not mean that we take the liberty of not approaching them and sharing with them our concern. It is absolutely crucial that none of these steps are missed. We must approach a member with whom we feel we are at odds, and we must forgive them. We can’t think that if we forgive them then we don’t have to approach them, that is not how it works.
We learn that Jesus wants us to be reconciled with each other and that children have a special place in Jesus heart. These are key understandings to our relationship with our Savior, even if they are unrelated.