Listen to today’s devo!

It would be better for them if a large millstone were hung around their neck and they were thrown into the sea. (Mark 9:42)

I served on the jury for the trial of a person charged with gravely injuring a small child. It was eye-opening to experience how much time and effort it cost so many people—all those summoned for the jury selection process, those who made it through to serve on the jury, the attorneys, the witnesses, the accused, the judge, bailiff, court recorder, other court personnel, and even the audience—in order to seek justice for a single child who’d suffered harm.

In Jesus’ day, children weren’t considered important. But Jesus treated them with countercultural respect. Just a few verses before today’s verse, he’d shown his disciples a small child and told them, “Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me” (Mark 9:37). The opposite is true, too, as today’s verse spells out: Whoever harms the faith of a little one who believes in Christ will face a fate worse than a watery grave.

These “little ones” may be literal children in your church’s Sunday school or kids’ ministry. Or they may be physical grownups who are developmentally childlike or spiritually newborn. Either way, Jesus’ warning stands: Treat them in a way that builds up their faith, not tears it down. Just as in my courtroom experience, God will seek justice for every single child who’s suffered harm.

Where you encounter childlike faith, protect and nurture it.

Jerome Van Kuiken is a missionary kid, a pastor’s kid, and dean of the school of ministry and Christian thought at Oklahoma Wesleyan University.

© 2020 Wesleyan Publishing House. Reprinted from Light from the Word. Used by permission. Scriptures taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®.