“And calling to him a child, [Jesus] put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt. 18:2-3, ESV)
Recently, in my Bible reading I found this verse. It stuck out to me and made me wonder, what exactly does becoming like a child look like? What does it mean in our everyday life? There’s so many answers, I doubt I’ll be able to cover them all here or discuss them adequately.
One of the first traits of a child I think of is their humility. When they’re young they are so impressionable. They aren’t proud or arrogant straight out of the womb. Pride can also mean selfishness, and I don’t see that rooted in kid’s hearts. Sure, they may not want to share or they shout “Mine, mine!” but deep down that’s not them. My eldest son just became a big brother. And even though he is jealous of my youngest sometimes he is always-I do mean always-running over to his little brother and giving him kisses on the head. When his little brother cries, he toddles over to him and pats his head, in an attempt to comfort him.
We will have to humble ourselves before Jesus and listen to the Holy Spirit’s correction (2 Tim. 3:16) if there’s something in our life we need to change. I don’t know about you, but He always subtly lets me know when it’s time for a course correction. And I’m ashamed to admit that I probably ignore it way too long. I don’t know why I do this because for the most part, once I’ve let whatever it is go I feel so free. I can see a positive difference. Speaking of letting things go…
Another trait in children that I think of is how they are quick to forgive. Their hearts haven’t been hardened by many hurts, perpetual disappointment, or breaking of trust. They simply forgive and move on. They don’t hold grudges, they aren’t bitter. What a sweet example to learn from! I’m not saying that doing this is easy- goodness, no! Nevertheless, Jesus taught that we are to forgive seventy times seven and more than that. The parable of the unforgiving servant softens my heart to forgiveness every time I read it. (Matt. 18:21-25)
Children are full of wonder. They’re discovering everything for the first time and to them, it’s so exciting. Why don’t we have this attitude about God’s Word? Every time I open those pages I discover something new, and it’s pretty exciting to me. Yet, it’s so difficult to find time to open my Bible. I hear “you should make it a priority” thrown around so often, and while it’s true, we should, finding time to carve out can be hard. Where do you make a sacrifice? What do you say “no” to so that you can get into His Word?
I don’t have all the answers for you. I believe you need to seek them out for yourself. Nothing is easy at first but with due diligence it will get easier. I’ve heard it takes two months to solidify a new habit into your routine and I think it’s true. God’s Word is worth whatever sacrifice it takes. Relationship with Him is worth whatever you’re saying no to. Say yes to Him and discover what all He has in store for you to find inside the pages of His book.
Children are innocent and pure of heart. They will believe whatever you tell them. They have no ill will in their heart. Their heart is a clean slate. At a young age, they haven’t yet been wronged. Nor have they felt the sting of bitter disappointment. It’s a great reminder to let grudges go and to believe the best of people, as children do. Which leads me to my final point.
Children love easily. They are accepting and their hearts are pure. They don’t care what you’ve done wrong in this life. Instead, they will welcome you with open arms (and probably a big smile). This trait kind of ties back to how they easily forgive as well. But why do they love so eagerly? Because children need love from a parental figure to thrive. Biological or not, they need someone to look up to. Someone to care for and about them. Someone to love them unconditionally.
You see, even though we’re adults we still need someone to look up to. We still need someone to trust with our everything. Someone to see our flaws and accept us, while lovingly correcting us too. In this way, we are a lot like children. But in many other ways, we still have a lot to learn. This isn’t to say that if we don’t master these things we won’t be received into the Kingdom of Heaven. Because God isn’t like that. This isn’t a works based religion. Let say that again, this is not a works based religion. James wrote,
“What is the benefit, my fellow believers, if someone claims to have faith but has no [good] works [as evidence]? Can that [kind of] faith save him? [No, a mere claim of faith is not sufficient—genuine faith produces good works.] 15 If a brother or sister is without [adequate] clothing and lacks [enough] food for each day, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace [with my blessing], [keep] warm and feed yourselves,” but he does not give them the necessities for the body, what good does that do? 17 So too, faith, if it does not have works [to back it up], is by itself dead [inoperative and ineffective].” (James 2:14-17, AMP)
I really encourage you to read the full passage James 2:14-26, but the quotation above gets the point across. The bottom line is this, God loves you so much He wants to work in you. He wants to weed out your flaws and grow something better in the soil. He wants to pour so much love into you that you are a cup overflowing. Refinement isn’t a bad thing, and He will accept you as you are. He won’t force you to change.
Sorry. I went on a tangent there… I’m preaching to myself here too. There are days I find myself greatly lacking in excitement about God’s Word, or I’m struggling to forgive my husband for something. There is no perfect place called “there” that you will arrive at. Our bodies won’t be made perfect on this Earth. But you can take strides toward eternity. I hope this has encouraged you.