Reading the way Jesus took time to hear and take care of the needs of a man who everyone else thought was just “getting in the way” really puts our responsibility into practical perspective. Take a moment to read it in Matthew 20:29-34 and notice how the intense gratitude the man felt for what Jesus did motivated him to start following Jesus.
For the sake of our study, I’ve written up an imaginary (but entirely plausible) modern-day reenactment set at my house. Make sure you read the Scriptural account first so you can think about the parallels:
Unlike the “important” things like blindness and demon possession and death that Jesus dealt with, most of the needs and wants of our younger siblings---like finding plastic swords for Playmobil men---are probably not what we would consider “important”, especially in the light of everything WE have to do. Nonetheless, we need to take the time to listen to their needs and deal with them.
And as I was leaving my bedroom, several wild and rambunctious little boys met me in the hallway. And one little boy, seeing that I was not totally occupied at the moment, began frantically begging, “Abigail, I need you to help me!“ I could tell he wasn’t hurt or anything, so I sternly told him that I was too busy and he ought to be quiet, but he kept on begging all the more. So finally, I stopped and asked, “What do you want me to do for you?” And he said to me, “I need you to find my man‘s sword. Timothy threw it back in the container and I can’t find it anywhere!” Moved with compassion, I went in the room and spent five minutes rummaging through the Playmobil container until I produced the sword. And immediately he took it and returned to playing with his men.
Consider Jesus if you think you’re too pressed for time for that---He only had three years of ministry on this earth, and yet, He took time for a simple beggar who no one else cared about.
If you do take that time, you might be surprised to find your younger siblings following the example of your life.
Realistically, yes, when you give an inch, they’re probably going to take a mile, and you’ll probably spend multiple five-minutes over the next weeks searching for Playmobil men if you continue to be “moved with compassion”. As many of you older brothers and sisters would verify, in all reality, my little brother was NOT going to get up immediately and start physically “following me” after I found his sword, or begin asking me what he could do for me. He was going to keep on playing!!! That was the point of my finding the sword after all, wasn’t it?
Take heart, though, that in the long run, the interest you show those little ones and their world will give them in interest in yours. And if you’re living like a maturing child of God should, that just may be exactly what they need.
Yes, kids need role models and heroes today; but the place they need them most isn’t in magazines and on the TV screen...it’s in their own living rooms, kitchens, and backyards. In the words of Arthur Ash, “True heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic. It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost, but the urge to serve others, at whatever cost.”
Jesus said it this way: “...whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave; just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:26-28)
We teenagers desperately need to take this responsibility seriously and start seeing younger ones in our lives, especially our own little siblings, not just bodies in the background of what we’re trying to get done in life, but as an integral part of our ministries NOW. And this consideration ought to shift our focus from simply enduring or even simply enjoying our younger siblings to a focus on serving, loving, and instilling Godly visions into them.
What things are you motivating the children in your life to love and pursue? What vision are you giving them to strive after? What kind of example are you leaving for them to follow? And lastly, when this season of opportunity is passed and those little ones aren’t so little anymore, when you stand before God and give an account for your influence over them, will your legacy be purple crayons or millstones?
The choice is yours.