Matthew 18 is a very important chapter in the New Testament. It gives us a great deal of information about what Jesus expects from us as we live our lives for him. He wants us to have a heart for his kingdom.

First, Jesus wants us to have a humble heart (vv.1-5). Pride is the downfall of many people. We often want to be considered the greatest, but Jesus wants us to humble ourselves like a little child. Small children must count on their parents to provide everything for them. We must show this childlike trust in our heavenly Father, a trust that expresses itself in humility that leads to humble service in the kingdom.

Second, we must have a heart for holiness (vv.6-9). We must not be a bad influence on others. Woe to us if we entice others to sin! We also have to have a deep sense of holiness for ourselves. Jesus doesn’t literally want us to cut off our hand or pluck out our eye to avoid sin. He exaggerates to make a point here, and the point is this—we must be ruthless in determining that we will not lead a life of sin, but that we will pursue holiness.

Then Jesus talks about having a heart for the lost (vv.12-14). If just one sheep out of a hundred wanders astray, every effort must be put forth to find that sheep and bring it home. Most churches would feel pretty good about having 99 of their 100 members attending on a regular basis. But Jesus says we have to go after the one lost sheep. Is there someone you need to talk to today?

Next, Jesus says that we need to have a heart for reconciliation (v.15). This is one of the most disobeyed of all the teachings of Jesus. If someone offends us, we tend to tell it to everyone else except the person we need to reconcile with! A face-to-face meeting, with the intention of winning the person over, is what needs to take place. We build too many fences between ourselves and others, when we really need to be building bridges of reconciliation. Again I ask, is there someone you need to talk to today?

Finally, Jesus says that we need to have a heart for forgiveness. The rabbis in Jesus’ day taught that if you forgave someone 3 times, you had done your duty. Jesus says that we shouldn’t even keep track of how many times we forgive others. After all, God has forgiven us for so much! Don’t the small grievances we hold against others seem petty after considering all the sin that God has forgiven in our lives? Jesus teaches us to pray that God will forgive us on the basis of how we offer forgiveness to others. Most of us need to work on having a more forgiving heart.

To sum it up, Jesus wants us to be: humble, holy, concerned about lost people, working to reconcile our differences and willing to forgive those who sin against us. It is all a part of having a heart for his kingdom.

There was a retired military man living out his last years in a nursing home, battling against the ravages of dementia. On a good day he would recognize his daughter, Merilinda, when she came for a visit. Most days he did not.

One day Merilinda decided to stay for a longer visit with her father. It was on a Tuesday. September 11, 2001, to be exact. Merilinda and her father spent that day as many Americans did, glued to the television set, watching the terrible events of the day unfold.

Even through the fog of his dementia, that old military man understood that his beloved country was under attack. With a gleam in his eye and a clear, strong voice, he turned to his daughter and said, “Merilinda, bring me my uniform!”

What a heart that old man had for his country! And that’s the kind of heart Jesus wants us to have for his kingdom!

For more inspirational writings by Tom Cox, go to www.jesustrek.wordpress.com