Have you ever been told to quit acting like a child? I have. Many times. But it wasn’t in a complementary context. What’s interesting, though, is that Jesus tells us to act like a child, to become like children.
What is it that children act like that Jesus wants us to become? Let’s find out in Matthew 18:2-5:
“And He called a child to Himself and set him before them, and said, “Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. 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” (Matthew 18:2-5 New American Standard Bible (NASB).
Did you find the answer to the question? It’s humility. Being humble is what Jesus wants us to become. Plus, he wants us to “receive” or love His children. Which means we are to love adults, too, because everyone, young and old, are to become like children, and we also are to receive the children (young and old) as Jesus did.
This passage is so profound because in it is our marching orders for living. Have you wondered what you are to be doing in life? Have you searched for meaning? Have you questioned if you are making a difference? Do you struggle with what to do with the time you have each day?
If you need help with those questions, just read Matthew 18:2-5: become like a child, and receive the other children. Be humble in your heart and soul in everything (EVERYTHING) you do, and love God’s children (ALL God’s children).
During Jesus’ ministry He said some pretty bold and renegade things, and this is one that tops the list: return to being humble and love everyone around you, or you won’t get into Heaven.
Seems simple enough, right? But what exactly does this mean? Do I really have to love the people who annoy me? Do I have to love the people who act really stupid?
The beauty of readying the Bible is that many times it answers its own questions and quandries. Jesus explained the meaning of what He meant right after He said what He said. Let’s read Matthew 18:2-5 again, but this time in The Message Bible, and then let’s add one more verse:
Jesus said, “I’m telling you, once and for all, that unless you return to square one and start over like children, you’re not even going to get a look at the kingdom, let alone get in. Whoever becomes simple and elemental again, like this child, will rank high in God’s kingdom. What’s more, when you receive the childlike on my account, it’s the same as receiving me.”
“But if you give them a hard time, bullying or taking advantage of their simple trust, you’ll soon wish you hadn’t. You’d be better off dropped in the middle of the lake with a millstone around your neck.” (Matthew 18:6 MSG).
OK, so as we understand it, “receiving” a child means, in The Message, to not give the childlike a hard time, it means not to bully, and it means to not take advantage of a person’s simple trust. In the NIV it means to not cause “one of these little ones–those who believe in Me–to stumble.”
Today, Jesus is asking us all to take a look at our own heart, mind, and life. How do we REALLY feel about people, even those who frustrate us? What do we think about people and what do we say about people when they aren’t in our presence?
Are we pretty pleased with ourselves and position in life, or are we in need of starting over from square one? Are we needing a humility make-over? If we got that humility make-over from Jesus, how would our relationships change? What would happen in that relationship where we struggle?
Today, let’s look at how we think and feel about people. Sure, people can be annoying, but if we are thinking of people this way, our behavior could start looking like a bully, and we give people a hard time because we don’t like how they act or what they talk about.
Yep, this is not an easy message to hear, but Jesus had something to say in His day, and His message is just as relevant today.
Won’t you join me in praying this prayer:
I heard you loud and clear today.
Please forgive me for my pride.
Please forgive me for talking about people in negative ways.
Please forgive me for thinking that I’m better than others.
Please forgive me for passing on unbecoming stories about people.
that set them in a bad light, and make me look good.
I’ve been a bully and I’ve taken advantage of other’s simple trust.
I ask, Lord, for you to humble me.
I commit to receiving your life-changing love so I can really love others.
Replace my evil thoughts and feelings with Your loving thoughts and feelings.
Replace my insensitivity with the desire to receive all of your children with love.
I am returning to square one with you, Jesus!
Thank you for answering my prayer.