And as if to emphasize this all the more Jesus added this other word: "See that ye despise not one of these little ones." (Mat_18:10 <http://www.crossbooks.com/verse.asp?ref=Mt+18:10>.) The word the Master used means more than that word "despise." That word of ours means to think meanly of, or to scorn. The Master's word means yet more: see that you do not think either slightingly or lightly of them; do not fail to think much, and very highly of them. They are worthy of your best thought, whoever you are. Then comes the statement about the angels to show what the Father thinks of them.
"Despise" means what the disciples did when, another time, they rebuked the eager parents who brought their children to Jesus for His blessing. (Mar_10:13-16 <http://www.crossbooks.com/verse.asp?ref=Mk+10:13-16>.) In their ignorance and thoughtlessness the disciples feared that the children were not worthy of so much thought. They feared the Master would only be bothered. Poor men! Jesus was "moved with indignation"; more literally, He was pained or distressed. Ah! the Master taught that they are worthy of the best thought of the best trained brain. They are very dear to God, and were to Jesus when He was here, and should be to all of us.
And the child is peculiarly open to God. The child heart and ear naturally open upward. They hear readily, and believe easily. The roadway of the ear has not been beaten down hard by much travel. It is still soft and impressionable because of the dew and the gentle rain of God's direct touch. The world's sun has not yet gotten in to dry and patch and harden.
The child nature is peculiarly sensitive to God. He is born with a nature open to God. Instances are numerous of children, in the very young tender years, talking to God in a way that shows how real He is to them, and of their going off alone to pray when not aware of being noticed. The answers of very young children to questions about God are often surprisingly intelligent.
And while this has sometimes grown with the years, many times, maybe most times, as they have gotten a bit older, and mingled more with people, and absorbed the outside moral atmosphere, this simple faith in God, and eagerness for Him, and consciousness of His presence and care have gradually gone away.
Was this what Jesus meant when, in that same famous child passage (Mat_18:1-11 <http://www.crossbooks.com/verse.asp?ref=Mt+18:1-11>.) we have been quoting, He uttered the solemn warning against those who cause these little ones to stumble? The heartlessness of putting out your foot to trip up the innocent confiding child, and send him sprawling, to carry scars to the end, and never to get quite back to the early simple faith! And yet so common.