“See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven. What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? And if he finds it, truly, I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. So it is not the will of my Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.” – Matthew 18:10-14
I can’t count the times I’ve gone astray and could have been despised. I’ve failed, made mistakes, and wronged God and others. Yet, no matter how far or how long I’ve strayed God has never despised or rejected me. Rather, he goes searching for me.
Since God never despises his own, he expects me not to look down on them either. It’s hard not to neglect people who have failed me, fallen to the side, or are “damaged” in a way that doesn’t fit my agenda. And when time and resources are stretched, despising others is easier.
God used a new friend to remind me of this recently. During a stressful and hectic time, I could have easily let this person fade away after a disagreement with another person left him set aside. On this occasion, I was prompted to make the extra effort to circle back for him (leaving the 99). I’m glad I did because it mattered a lot to him and even more to God.
God always circles back for us—his little ones—even if he must leave the 99. I can’t return for everyone, every time. I’m limited. But as I heard Andy Stanley say once, I can always “do for one what I can’t do for everyone.” It will always matter to that one and to God.
Teach your children that God is always willing to search for the one.