1 At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”
2 Then he called a little child over to sit among the disciples, 3 and said, “I assure you that if you don’t turn your lives around and become like this little child, you will definitely not enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Those who humble themselves like this little child will be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5 Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.
Whenever I have any angst about being unworthy in the sight of God, I try to remember this passage from Matthew 18. At some point or another, perhaps we all think of ourselves as unworthy, as among those who are lost or confused. We must remember that we all fall short in making our perfect way through this world. We need not think of ourselves as “the best,” but we need not think of ourselves as undeserving or unlovable, either. As imperfect people, even the holiest, healthiest thinkers and doers of godly works among us can and do fall short in their Christian walk. This is not news, is it? Yet to the disciples, as they argued about which of them was “the greatest,” it may have been news. Each one of them was trying to be the perfect disciple to Jesus.
But to learn to love God with the heart of a child means something else. As adults, how often do we let our adult brains get in the way of loving? Because in verse 2, we literally see Jesus calling a child to come and sit among the group as his example. “Here, be like this child,” Jesus tells everyone. “Let’s not make this complicated. Let’s love the people in the world – just like children love them.”
What do children do that makes them such good examples of love and faith? Of course this is not in every case or age, but kids are often honest to fault. Children say what’s on their minds. Even when the truth is challenging, kids speak up plainly. Children love with complete commitment by doing such things as holding someone’s hand or comforting a stranger. Children will often give away their things: toys, food, clothes, etc., even without having something else in its place. It is the simplicity of childlike responses to the world that Jesus is calling his disciples and us to notice. So when I am tempted to think myself unworthy, I try to remember Jesus’ example of loving like children:
Speak honestly and plainly.
Give readily without worry for one’s own need.
by Barbara Carlson
For Pondering & Prayer
It is in loving like children that we are reminded not to let our adult brains get in the way. So keep it simple and remember to walk their way. How does remembering the actions of children encourage your faith journey?
Prayer: Gracious God, thank you for a simple message found through the example of children. Help me to remember to love with simplicity; speak with humility and honestly care for others without worrying about my own needs. Amen.