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
            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
            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
             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
                 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
                     (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
                 e. The employer you stole from may not press charges but God
                 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

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
                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

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

            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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