Being as Little Children

In Matthew 18:3, Christ gave His disciples the following very poignant admonitions: “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.”

Some great points are given here.

Firstly, we are to be become converted. Conversion describes a total change in how we think and act. It refers to a rejection of the ways of this world and a transformation by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2). It requires constant effort and constant learning. Paul had to correct the Corinthians in 1 Corinthians 3:1-3 because they were not growing spiritually. They behaved, as it were, like mere carnal men, full of envy and strife.

Secondly, we are to become as little children. But we are also told that we are to be growing (compare also 2 Peter 3:18). We start as “newborn babes [who] desire the pure milk of the word, that they may grow thereby” (1 Peter 2:2). Babes in Christ are to be growing in maturity and Godly wisdom. So how does being as little children fit into this?

Albert Barnes Notes on the Bible has this to say: “Children are, to a great extent, destitute of ambition, pride, and haughtiness. They are characteristically humble and teachable. By requiring his disciples to be like them, [Christ] did not intend to express any opinion about the native moral character of children, but simply that in these respects they must become like them. They must lay aside their ambitious views and their pride, and be willing to occupy their proper station–a very lowly one.”

This is not to say that we are to become as children in respect to foolishness, as Proverbs 22:15 tells us that foolishness, which is bound up in the heart of a child, must be driven far from it. Rather, we are to take on the attitude of being faithful and trusting in God, of accepting correction in humility, and of wanting to learn and being teachable and receptive to God’s words. As we read Christ’s statement in Luke 18:17: “… whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.”

While we are to have a teachable and humble attitude like little children, we must also realize that we are to be working towards perfection in all things (compare Ephesians 3:13-19).

Thirdly, we are told that we need to enter the kingdom of heaven. We are not already in the kingdom of heaven, nor are we to go to heaven to enter it there. Rather, the kingdom of heaven is the kingdom of God—the kingdom of our Father who is in heaven—which Christ will restore on this earth when He returns; and when God’s children will enter His kingdom, they will rule with Christ on this earth for a thousand years.

So are we “as” little children? Where are we in faith, understanding, truth and knowledge? Paul again gives a strong warning and rebuke in Hebrews 5:12-14, when he writes: “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are full of age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.”

Where are we in being able to discern good and evil? The times are evil and the time of Christ’s return is drawing closer. Let us all work towards a good, solid and mature understanding (1Corinthians 14:20), and when we, by reason of use, continue to “exercise our senses to discern good and evil,” and to practice the good and reject the evil, then we will continue to be like little children and be allowed to enter the soon coming Kingdom of God.

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