Thursday, February 21, 2008

Spiritual Adults are as Little Children

When Christ explained the kingdom of Heaven to the disciples his explanations were is full of paradoxes. For example He said to them, “The first shall be last…,” and “He who looses his life, shall live…”(Matthew 20:16; 16:25). Let us consider this week another paradox found in Matthew 18: 1 - 4. Let us read the passage,

Matthew 18: 1 At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?
Matthew 18: 2 And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them,
Matthew 18: 3 And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 18:4 Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

The disciples’ misunderstanding of the Gospel led them to argue who of them would be the greatest in the Kingdom to come. They wanted to settle their argument and went to ask Jesus. As we read in the above passage Jesus called a little child. The child came to Him and Jesus set him on the midst of the disciples and the child stood there. (The child modeled what Christ wanted from them.) Then Christ proceeded to tell them that He who answers when he is called, he who comes when he is summoned, he who stays put until told he can leave is the greatest. It is not the independent, self assertive, do it yourselfer that God commends. God commends those who totally humble themselves and totally depend and trust in God. They wait for God’s words for instruction, when God speaks they listen, they stay when and where God says so, they do not move until God says so, and toward where God points them. There is in them an implicit trust in God, which comes out of knowing God’s love and will and being thankful to Him.

What things do children have that we should emulate? Many people say children, in general, forgive easily. They fight with their playmates and a few moments later they play again as if nothing happened. They tend not to keep tabs nor hold grudges. In general, children also display an eagerness to learn and tend to be teachable. The old expression, “you cannot teach a new trick to an old dog” holds true for many adults. They are set in their ways, inflexible, stubborn and many times proud and arrogant about what they consider the right way. They reject anything that does not agree with whatever they hold true and dear. Children exhibit openness to new things and a willingness to try them.

There is something else about children that we must learn. Children, in general, always come back to their parents because they know they can always depend on them. They, perhaps subconsciously, know that without their parents they will not survive. Their parents know this, which is why their parents take care of them, and train them to survive without them in the future. Likewise, we cannot survive without God. God wants to train us to learn to trust Him and depend on Him at all times. Yes, it takes humility to accept this and live like this. Only the Holy Spirit can give us that humility. However, unlike children that grow to be independent adults, we can never grow to be independent of God. Spiritual adults are those who choose to give their will to God continually. Spiritual adults trust and depend on God continually.

We can be confused when we read what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 13: 11 “When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.” Notice Paul refers to childish things: Whining, complaining, temper tantrums, self-centeredness, etc. As we submit to the indwelling Spirit of God, He takes away the negative ways of Children and replaces them with the positive. He replaces these negative traits with humility, and a willingness to listen and learn. Those who allow this are the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.