Get Big By Being Like a Child

And calling to Him a child, He 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. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:2-4)

Childish. Childlike. Two seemingly similar words.

Synonyms, they are not, however.

To be childish is, in essence, to be controlled by the things of the self, the demands of the flesh with its appetites. A childish person is needy, as we all are, but he is loud, emotional, and forceful about his wants and how they should be met.

Childlikeness on the other hand involves, as Jesus said in Matthew 18, a sense of the Father heart of God and an understanding of His order that brings us to trust and humility.

The way of childishness keeps us small; we box ourselves in with our feelings. We come to think that if we just get what we want when we want it that life will be bigger and better. Large rooms, however, can be ruled by “brawling” women (see Proverbs 21:9; 25:24).

That is, the self and the flesh never rest and are really never satisfied, sort of like the devil as he describes himself in Job 1 and 2. Once set loose, the things of the self and the flesh become difficult and often impossible to manage. Only by the Spirit of God can we truly be set free from their demands.

Becoming as a little child, as Jesus defined it, brings us into the largeness of His blessings, honor, and life. He taught that the narrow way leads to life eternal – life that is immeasurable in its height, depth, and width.

Concentration makes for strength. Focus and attention lead us into patience and endurance. This is the principle of going from faith to faith, according to Romans 1:17.

Ask, Seek, Knock

The resurrection life that Christ has given us is full and open. Jesus has chosen us to be His and to make us one with Him and with the Father. His instruction is for us to ask, to seek, and to knock.

Be like a child. Ask God for what you need – big things, small things, and all things in between. Have you noticed how children are very quick to make their desires known? Don’t hold back. Let your request be made known. Pour out your complaint. Tell the Lord you are hungry and thirsty, tired and wanting. Do you feel forgotten? Let Him know it. This is what it means to come boldly before the throne of His grace.

Be like a child. Seek and find His purpose and direction for you. Children are built for curiosity and for discovery. Their eyes open with wonder at new things and they love surprises. They search attics and cellars and woods and beaches. Watch them as they are amazed. It is good for the heart and spirit. After coming out of the tomb, Jesus opened the hearts of the disciples to the riches and wonders of the Word (see Luke 24).

Children are built for curiosity and for discovery. Their eyes open with wonder at new things and they love surprises. They search attics and cellars and woods and beaches. Watch them as they are amazed. Click To Tweet

Be like a child. Knock on the doors you come to. “What’s in there?” Children see a door and consider that it may lead them to something exciting and fresh. They jiggle the doorknob. They push and pull. They knock to see if there’s somebody on the other side.

This is all part of the growing up process that we witness with the young. Being a granddad to seven, I have purposed to appreciate all the playfulness and boldness that comes before me. The time of raising my own children just blew past me. There was so much work to do. Providing for the family and making it possible for us to have food and shelter dominated my thinking.

Now I am at a different place and I have chosen to be more aware, more connected, and more present in this phase of life. For this too shall pass and the little ones will soon be looking at me eye to eye.

Maturity is a good thing, but the child in us cannot be allowed to evolve into a hopeless, driven know-it-all. In such a case, the child in us disappears and we simply become weary wanderers detached from the joy that is set before us with every sunrise – or, in my case, with every moon rise.

We are exhorted to grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ (see 2 Peter 3:18). Yes, there is maturity factor involved in following the Lord. We are to commit ourselves to hearing the Word and learning its doctrines and growing in our faith. “Faith comes by hearing and hearing through the Word of Christ” (Romans 10:17).

Psalm 119 tells us in two places to “take heed” to the Word so we can be cleansed and forgiven and so that we can discern and avoid temptations that carry us off into the sins that so easily beset us. It is important for us to be an active part of a local assembly and develop our spiritual lives under the care of the gifts God has given – pastor-teachers and members of the church family.

Full of Wonder

In another place in Psalm 119, the writer prayed that God would open to him the “wondrous things” in the Word of God.

“Wonder” is such a great word to me. The Son given, according to Isaiah 9:6, is to be seen first as “wonderful.” I believe this speaks to our fear of the Lord, to our honor and reverence for Him. This pours forth from us when we allow His glory to captivate us.

There is a love for us, in God, that has always been, a love that is, and a love that will never end. Believe this and receive this, and you will become wise with wonder and go from glory to glory in your walk with Him.

Jesus celebrated the child in Matthew 18 because he came to the Master. He was welcomed into the Lord’s presence and this little one enjoyed it.

Just before this, the disciples had been demonstrating their childishness. They argued about who was the greatest among them. Even among those who walked and talked with Jesus there were fits of comparison and selfish talk. John and James imagined that they were worthy of seats right beside the King of kings and Lord of lords in His glory. Such childish thoughts they did not utter themselves; rather, they sent their mom to do their bidding before Him.

This spirit of entitlement that pushed this attitude was at work in the days when Jesus was born. Herod the Great, the ruler of the region that encompassed Jerusalem and Bethlehem, entertained the wise men who came searching for the one born the King of the Jews.

Herod was irritated at the suggestion that someone other than him would assume the place of authority. Like many who are childish, Herod was prone to pouts and given to tantrums that descended into rage. We read about how this ruler had a crowd of babies executed when he learned that the wise men had tricked him and not come back to tell him of Jesus and His location.

The wise men were children at heart. They saw the Star and came to see the Savior and King. They answered a call that went to their hearts and they believed in Him.

Let’s be childlike in all that we do and believe God for what we ask for, what we seek, and what we want opened up to us.


Steve Andrulonis
Latest posts by Steve Andrulonis (see all)