“And whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple - truly I tell you, none of these will lose their reward.” Matthew 10:42 NSRV
What Jesus is talking about is hospitality, even if it is no more than a cup of cold water. “Little ones,” does not refer to children here. It seems to be directed to those who are just starting their faith journey, those who are just starting to learn about Jesus and the love of God. Jesus is telling his disciples, and us, that how we treat those who are hearing the message of salvation for the first time and giving their life to it is very important work. It is not up to us to choose who we will give the cup of cold water to, only to give it when the need is there. Early in my ministry I was called upon to give some of my time to three men who were exploring a call to pastoral ministry. I did so very reluctantly for two of them because I was making a judgment of their worthiness to serve in this way. That’s not what Jesus is saying here. He is saying that we are to encourage those who come our way, no matter where they are in their journey. All three of these men received their Licenses to serve as local pastors in our church. One still serves, the other two no longer serve because of their health. My role was only to offer the cup of water that they needed at that point in their journey.
I want to conclude with William Barclay’s summary of these verses:
“This passage sets out four links in the chain of salvation.
1) There is God out of whose love the whole process of salvation began.
2) There is Jesus who brought that message to us.
3) There is the human messenger, the prophet who speaks, the good people who are an example, the disciple who learns, who in turn all pass on to others the good news which they have received.
4) There are the believers who welcome God’s people and God’s message and who thus find life for their souls.”
The question for each of us is this: “Are we offering a cup of water to those who pass our way?”
Lord, give us eyes to see those who need a cup of water. Amen.
Always, to God be the glory!