One of the most popular forms of giving today is through child-sponsorship. Through organizations like World Vision, Compassion International, Save the Children, and many others, one can help a child in a developing country with a small monthly donation. These funds help the child go to school, get proper nutrients, and hopefully hear and accept the message of the Gospel. One study showed these programs actually work as they build up children to become better adults and lift entire families from extreme poverty.
ALL BECAUSE OF JESUS
The reason these programs were created and people continue to give to them can be found in Jesus’ attitude toward children. In one of His well-known interactions, Jesus blessed the children and told the adults,
Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me;
and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.
— Mark 9:37
The beauty of these sponsorship programs is that they provide a real opportunity for donors to connect with the children by doing more than simply giving money; most donors spend time praying for the children, communicating with them, and even visiting their families. Often, sponsors develop lifelong relationships which are a mutual blessing.
THE FLIP SIDE
Only a few verses after those beautiful words, Jesus gives a stern warning to adults about the flip side of welcoming little children — causing them to stumble.
If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in
me—to stumble, it would be better for them if a large millstone
were hung around their neck and they were thrown into the sea.
— Mark 9:42
I have a son and a daughter who were once children and now have small children of their own. News about neglected or abused children literally makes me sick. How can someone cause little ones to hurt or stumble? I guess Jesus had a similar feeling about the abuse of innocent children. If you put these two verses together, Jesus is basically saying,
If you receive one of these little children, you are truly blessed, because this is the same as welcoming the very Son of God.
If you do damage to one of these children, you would be better off dead.
I don’t suppose anyone reading this blog would fall in that second category, so this meditation is about welcoming Christ through blessing the little children. May I invite you to welcome children in the next couple days? Serve them, bless them, share an unexpected gift, give them a hug, or share a word of encouragement. When you welcome the little children, you will be welcoming the very Son of the living God.