Matt 18:12-14 The Importance of One Our Lord gave us a parable to emphasize the importance of one. The parable deals with sheep. I don’t know any shepherds, but our Lord has known them all, and He said the following is true of shepherds. 1. \\#Matt 18:12\\ Shepherds will leave the ninety-nine to find the one. 2. In so doing, the shepherd will work harder to recover the one than to care for all ninety-nine together. 3. \\#Matt 18:13\\ When found, the shepherd will rejoice MORE for the one than the ninety-nine together. Our Lord said that this is true of shepherds. However, Jesus is not teaching Shepherding 101. He is teaching us something about Himself and something that I think will help us if we remember it. He is teaching us that one, any one, is important. In our lustful, get-all-you-can-get world, we sometimes often the importance of one. Our thought tends to be, "It is only one." It matters not what the item is, the fact that it is ONE somehow diminishes its worth. Perhaps this does not make sense to you yet. To appreciate this truth, we need to insert some specific ones into the thought. Like so…. I. Jesus is teaching us that one soul, any soul, is important. A. The main point of this story is that the soul of one lost sheep is worth the effort and, if need be, the life of the shepherd. 1. We need to understand who the characters are in the story. a. Jesus is the Shepherd. b. Anyone of us who are lost is the sheep! c. The point is that one soul, any soul that is lost, is very important to Jesus. 2. To understand how important we also need to finish the parable. a. Jesus is telling the story knowing what He is to do. (1) Jesus did not just give His effort to retrieve the sheep. (2) Jesus gave His life to retrieve it. b. In the story, Jesus is not working for the ninety-nine. c. No. He gave Himself for THE ONE. 3. This plainly tells us that a soul, any soul, is important! a. That is true if it is the most wicked soul. b. That is true if it is the most moral soul. c. It is true if it is the oldest soul. d. It is true if it is the youngest soul. e. It matters not if we are discussing the wealthy or the poor. f. God does not change this truth if it is an American, an African, a Mexican, a Haitian, or any other! g. God just cares for the soul! Matt 18:11 For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost. B. Perhaps you have heard the expression that if you had been the only one who needed salvation, Jesus still would have come and died just for you? 1. This story is where that truth originates! 2. I am glad that there will be an uncountable multitude of the redeemed to gather in the heavens to sing the praises of our Savior, but Jesus did not come for the multitude, He came for the individual, for the one! C. Oh, if we could just get the truth of this story fixed in our minds! 1. We would never again hesitate to knock on a thousand doors for the opportunity to tell one about Jesus. 2. We would never complain about supporting a missionary for thirty years who saw only one convert. 3. We would not stop the bus route that brought only one child to church. 4. We would stop diminishing the value of the one! D. I remember the day when I was the one that the Shepherd sought! 1. Maybe there were others in the church when the preacher preached, but I was one that God spoke to. 2. Maybe the Holy Spirit dealt with others that day, but I was one who heard His voice. 3. Maybe that team of church workers stopped off at someone else’s house that night, but I was one that God convicted. 4. And maybe others prayed to receive Jesus Christ on that Thursday night, but I was one cried out! 5. One souls is important to God! E. Could I point out that today, in this place, at this hour, you are the one who is important to God. F. But I do not think the only lesson we can learn from this story is about Jesus. I believe we can also learn some lessons about ourselves. II. Jesus is teaching us that one relationship, any relationship, is important. A. There are all kinds of relationships. 1. They run from relationships with strangers to the closest family member. 2. Did you know that God cares how you treat an absolute stranger? Exodus 22:21 Thou shalt neither vex a stranger, nor oppress him…. Exodus 23:9 Also thou shalt not oppress a stranger…. Deuteronomy 10:19 Love ye therefore the stranger…. 3. If God cares how well we treat a stranger, how do you think He would feel about how we treat a close family member? B. People are too quick too throw away people. 1. People are too quick to throw friendships away. a. In the 24 years I have been pastor at Green Pond Baptist Church, I can remember have a few falling outs with people. b. I remember well the words that one man used as he attempted to reconcile. He said, "I don’t have so many friends that I can afford to loose one of them." c. He was right. 2. People are too quick to throw family members away. a. If we have too few friends to throw any away, we certainly have too few family members. b. I can count my family members - 1 wife, 1 mother, 4 daughters, 2 sons, 1 daughter-in-law, 2 sons-in-law, 8 grandchildren, 2 brothers, 1 father-in-law. c. I have a bigger family that most, however, have already lost all my grandparents, my father, and my mother-in-law. d. I can’t afford to lose my relationship with any of those I have left. e. You don’t either. 3. Husbands and wives are too quick to throw away mates. a. It seems like everyone is trying to set the record for the shortest marriage. b. A few days is not long enough to know anyone well enough to marry them and it is not long enough to know anyone well enough to divorce them. c. A marriage relationship is important. 1. If children are involved, certainly marriage is important. 2. But what most do not understand is that marriage is important if no children are involved. 3. Marriage is important because it is a life-long relationship that God has sanctioned. 4. You can never throw a mate away without doing great damage to…. (a) to yourself, (b) to your mate, (c) to those around you both, (d) to your culture, (e) to GOD. C. God has given us four realities to help us realize that every relationship is important. 1. Loneliness can make us realize one relationship is important. a. When you don’t go to the movie because you don’t have a friend attend it with, b. when you look across the table at an empty chair, c. when you rearing a child by yourself, d. or when you are sick and without anyone to help you, e. then you will wonder if you should not have worked a bit harder on keeping your relationships in tact. 2. Death can make us realize one relationship is important. a. Death has a way of sealing the regrets of a broken relationships. b. I have seen some who had not not spoken to a friend or family member for years, wail at their funeral because they finally released too late how important the relationship was. 3. Retribution can make us realize one relationship is important. a. Pay back is tough. (1) How about when you know someone who could help you but you don’t dare call on them because of the way you treated them? (2) How about when you lose visitation rights and have to work two jobs to support a family you will get no pleasure from? (3) How about when you are stuck with a T.V. dinner, a dog, and a lousy rerun because you have no other options? b. There are a lot of people who would have worked harder to make their relationships work if they had known how much it was going to cost them. (1) I am not speaking of mere finances, although it can cost that. (2) There is also the high price of emotional grief, the pain of separation, the feelings of desperation, abandonment, betrayal, and loneliness. (3) Then you realize that these are just the down payment on the life you have created for yourself. 4. Standing before God will make us realize that one relationship is important. a. Remember, to God, one is always important. b. You may not have thought much of mocking that stranger, but God did. c. It may have been of little consequence to you that you lied about a friend and colleague, but not to God. d. The child you abandoned may not hold you accountable but God will. e. The employer you stole from may not press charges but God has. f. Every human being on this earth will stand before God, accountable for the life they lived. III. Jesus is teaching us that one Christian bother or sister, any Christian brother or sister, is important. A. Having a Christian bother or sister is much the same as having a friend or even more like a family member, but with a difference. 1. Christian brothers and sister are usually closer than most friends and family members. a. Most of the time, Christian brothers and sisters become our best friends. b. I eat more with you than I do my physical brothers. c. I speak more with you than I do my physical brothers. d. I see more of you than I do my physical brothers. 2. It is not that I am at odds with my physical brothers, I am not. 3. Christian brothers and sisters just have more things in common and spend more time together. B. We are given a specific directive from Jesus on how to deal with a Christian brother or sister. a. Jesus gave His disciples the same commandment three different times while in the Upper Room. John 13:34 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. John 15:12 This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. John 15:17 These things I command you, that ye love one another. b. Jesus also explained the reason. John 13:35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. C. What Jesus gave to us in a single command, the remainder of the Bible breaks down in detail. 1. \\#Matt 18:15-17\\ If you are offended by a Christian brother or sister. a. \\#15\\ Go tell them and get it right. b. \\#16\\ If they will not listen, take one or two with you. c. \\#17\\ If it can not be resolved, it should be brought before the church. 2. \\#Matt 5:23-24\\ If you have offended a Christian brother or sister, you are required to go to them and mend the broken fence. Matthews 5:23 Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; 24 Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift. 3. I am to look after the interests of my Christian brother and sister. Philippians 2:3 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. 4 Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. 4. I am to pray for my Christian brother and sister. James 5:16 …pray one for another…. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. D. What is the Bible teaching us? It is teaching us that a Christian brother and sister is important! Don’t lose them. You and I must see that one is important. One is important to God and God wants one to be important to you. What must you do to put this truth into your life? 1. Are you the one that Jesus came after? You need to be saved. 2. Have you thrown one away in your life? You must mend that relationship. This morning, God wants us to understand the importance of one.
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