Don’t Be Snooty
Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
Matt. 18:10 (Holman) “See that you don’t look down on one of these little
ones,. . .”
The disciples had asked, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” (Matthew 18:1). Jesus answered by using a child as a visible lesson of true greatness, and by saying the Twelve had to become like children (Matt. 18:2-4).
In our text, Jesus was still speaking of children, and was also using them as representatives of all who might tend to be looked down on. Jesus could see snootiness in the disciples’ eyes. They were important, the child incidental.
These words Jesus spoke to His first followers apply to us today. Christ is displeased when our enemies demean us, and when we demean each other.
The Twelve’s arguing over who was the greatest was a way of despising others. Pushing self up pushes someone down. Jesus will have none of this.
Our Master changed the world forever. He toppled uppityness from its being the sole kingpin on the throne of this pompous world. Jesus taught us the equal infinite worth of all individuals, whatever their status in human eyes.
Prior to Christ, human life was counted cheap. The granting in our day of abortions and euthanasia is no evidence of progress. All moves to legalize them are not steps forward, but giant leaps backward, a retreat into ancient paganism.
Judges and Justices are among the most brilliant among us. I honor them, but it saddens me to see a judicial panel dressed in their dignified regalia make a ruling that sets society back over 2000 years. Something is desperately wrong when officials of a culture undermine the roots of what solidified that culture.
This having been said, we should not be surprised we humans fail in this area of life. We all struggle with devaluing others by looking down on them.
Our age-old nemesis, pride, won’t quit haunting us. Satan’s taunt, “You will be like God” (Gen. 3:5) echoes through the ages, hounding us relentlessly.
We all have a propensity to look down on others. We sometimes feel the world revolves around us. It’s a concept that fits well with our self-evaluation.
Jesus came to undercut self-infatuation. The early church followed His lead. His physical and spiritual brother commanded, “My brothers, hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ without showing favoritism” (James 2:1).
Paul also straightforwardly spoke against this evil. “Do nothing out of rivalry or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves” (Philippians 2:3). We should value all persons equally.
Despise and look down on no one. Stop the stereotypes; labels neutralize and stigmatize, making it easier to count others as inferior, not worth concern.
Beware contemptuous categorizations; poor white trash, uneducated, unrefined, young, old, sickly, simple, ugly, wrong color or ethnicity, handicapped. Let’s rise above petty pre-eminence, thinking we live one inch higher than others because we look better, make more money, hold a higher degree, bear a better last name, are more athletic. Often the difference between us and a more sinful person is only we were blessed to live a less-tempted life.
Christ-follower, none are inconsequential to God. Each person matters to Jesus. Beware contempt, the angry twin brother to ugly pride. Don’t be snooty.
Matt. 18:10b “. . .because I tell you that in heaven their angels continually view the face of My Father in heaven.”
When we are tempted to look down on others, may God help us look past the physical, and see the spiritual. The least among us has a dread Champion.
The Bible protects the disenfranchised. “The one who oppresses the poor insults their Maker” (PR 14:31a). “The wages due a hired hand must not remain with you until morning. You must not curse the deaf or put a stumbling block in front of the blind, but you are to fear your God” (LV 19:13b-14a).
“You must not exploit a foreign resident or oppress him, since you were foreigners in the land of Egypt. You must not mistreat any widow or fatherless child. If you do mistreat them, they will no doubt cry to Me, and I will certainly hear their cry. My anger will burn, and I will kill you with the sword; then your wives will be widows and your children fatherless” (EX 22:21-24).
Be careful. Beware. Be wise. Don’t dishonor any whom God honors, or look down on people Heaven regards. Every individual is precious to God.
We all, including the lowly, have angels on our side. “Are they not all ministering spirits sent out to serve those who are going to inherit salvation?” (Hebrews 1:14). God values us, and sends special agents to work in our behalf.
Some believe our text teaches that each believer has his or her own guardian angel, but why should we be satisfied with one angel when whole regiments are provided for our benefit? For us, angels never take their eyes off God, lest they miss one word spoken on our behalf. They await God’s command, ready to be dispatched. Our advocates have direct access to God. In palaces, the ones closest to the king have always been the ones most honored.
A caution. Angels are limited, not omnipresent. Each has a finite sphere of labor. Always emphasize God most. He is the Supreme Lover who initiates kindnesses to us. Angels are but agents. We are told about them to help us in our weakness. We more easily relate to beings less dazzling than God Himself.
An army of angels exists, and they minister to us individually. This reminds us, God’s care is massive, reaching all, yet minute, touching each.
Jesus sees our every tear, knows our name and the number of hairs on our head, feels our hurts. No detail about us ever escapes Him.
Jacob, fleeing his brother Esau’s wrath, was totally alone in the world. He did not know where he was going, and no one knew he was coming. Using a stone as his pillow, he laid down. In a dream, God comforted Jacob, who saw “A stairway was set on the ground with its top reaching heaven. And God’s angels were going up and down it” (Genesis 28:12). It was the Lord’s way of saying angels were reporting in about Jacob, and being dispatched in his behalf.
Jacob’s dream is one of the most touching scenes in Scripture, but wait! Angels were not the stars of the show. Verses 13-15 tell us the Lord stood beside Jacob, saying I will give you the land, I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, I will bring you back to this land, I will not leave you.
God was the Hero. Jacob did not call the place Beth-angels, House of Angels. They were but helpers. He named it Bethel, House of God (28:17).
For Christ-followers, this world is still a Bethel. Angels still ascend and descend, report our status, and bring down help for us as per God’s instructions.
In Genesis, angels went up and down on a ladder. In John 1:51 Jesus told Nathanael, “You will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.” Jesus became the new Jacob’s ladder, the channel of communication between God and His people, the meeting place, the connecting point, between heaven and earth. No report comes to Heaven apart from being offered in Jesus’ name. No blessing comes to us apart from Jesus.
Jesus is the honored One. “Father, we thank You for angels, thank You for telling us about them, thank You for condescending to our lowly estate, but most of all, we thank You for You, for Your Son Jesus, and for Your sweet Holy Spirit. Let nothing remove our ultimate affections from You.”