The story is told of a king who visited one of his villages and was appalled at the way the people mistreated their children. They were overworpked, underfed and punished mercilessly.
So the king went back to his castle and summoned his advisors to come up with a plan to remedy the situation. Some said to treat the parents the way the children had been treated, but others said that would only incite the parents against their children more than ever. Some said to take the children away from their parents, but others said there was nowhere to house them. Finally, one wise counselor came up with a plan to which all agreed, and the king instituted it.
The next day, the captain of the king’s guard rode to the village and posted an advisory in several locations. It said that the king had disguised one of his children as one of the children of the village and exchanged his child with one of the village children. It further warned that the village would be treated in precisely the same way that his child would be treated. But he gave no hint as to whose home his child had been secreted into.
The next day, all of the children of the village began to be treated with love and respect exactly as a prince or princess should expect to be treated. They were given reasonable chores to teach them discipline. They were fed meals which would nourish their bodies and promote healthy growth. And they were allowed time to play and rest and enjoy life.
As the years went by, those children grew up and became parents. When their children came along, those children were treated in the same way their parents were treated after the king’s visit.
Not all parents have heard that story and heeded its lesson. Even in the Christian community, there’s often mistreatment and neglect of one form or another. It is in regard to the treatment of children where Jesus gave one of His most wonderful promises as well as one of His most stern warnings.
“Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven, and whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me; but whoever causes one of these little ones to stumble, it is better for him that a heavy millstone be hung around his neck, and that he be drowned in the depth of the sea.” Matthew 18:4-6 (NASB)