Do you ever long for the simpler days of childhood? Do you ever wish you could go back to when life didn’t rush by so quickly and when you didn’t have so many responsibilities? Days like this (birthdays that is) make me remember how life used to be when I wasn’t a “grown up.”
There are perks to being a child. You don’t have to pay bills. You don’t have to worry about politics. You don’t have to buy groceries that seem to get more and more expensive every day. You’re too young to drive so car payments and insurance and gasoline doesn’t bother you.
But nobody can stay a child forever. Everyone has to grow up. Right?
Today’s verses are Matthew 18:2-3.
Jesus called a little child to him and put the child among them. Then he said, “I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven.
Ah! The Disciples must have provided Christ with unlimited entertainment and constant frustration with their questions. I’m sure we do the same to Him. Our questions probably make Him chuckle sometimes because we get so fixated on things that don’t matter.
In this instance, the Disciples wanted to know who was the most important person in eternity. They wanted to know who among them was going to be the best when eternity began. And as usual, Jesus turned them on their heads and spun them around by explaining that people who are like children will be the greatest in eternity. But what does that mean?
What does it mean to be like a little child? Haven’t we already established that everyone has to grow up some time? Even Peter Pan grew up (if you watched Hook). And the Bible itself talks about how it’s important to not be a child anymore in 1 Corinthians 13:11. “When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things.”
So how can Jesus say that people who are like children are the most important? Does that mean that we all need to behave like children all the time? Well, no. There are verses too where the Bible says we aren’t to be like children, that we need to mature in our faith and in our actions and our thoughts.
What Jesus is talking about here is our pride.
Think about the way a child handles pride. Children don’t really have it, if you think about it. They have confidence because they’ve never failed. They have innocence because they’ve never had to deal with people. But they aren’t ashamed to ask for help. They aren’t afraid if they don’t know the answer. And if they’re happy or angry or scared, they show it.
It’s easy for a child to trust their parents to take care of the problems in life. Why? Because their parents are bigger than they are. Any problem a kid has, they can usually take it to their parents, and they can solve it. To a child, all problems are bigger than they are, so they run to the biggest person they know (mom or dad) to fix it, rather than trying to do it themselves.
But what do grown ups do? If you’re a grown up like I am, I try to fix it myself before taking it to God. Why? Because it’s a me-sized problem. It’s something I can handle on my own. I don’t need God’s help. I can do it myself. And even with the problems I know are too big for me, I still try to do something about them first before I go to God. I lay awake at night worrying about them. I tie myself in knots fretting over things I can’t change.
Anyone else ever catch themselves doing that? Well … stop. It’s a waste of time and energy, and it distracts us from what matters.
While not every problem in life is necessarily a God-sized problem, He still wants to help you with it. And we need to get into the habit of taking our problems to Him no matter how big (or small) they are. We need to stop trying to fix everything on our own and run to God to ask for help.
He won’t turn you away. He won’t ridicule you or tell you that you’re wasting His time. He wants to help. He wants us to be like children in that we seek Him first before we try to do it alone and end up making it worse.
There are aspects of childhood that we do need to shed as we get older. But needing God? Asking God for help? It doesn’t matter if you’re 100 … or 60 … or 30. You need God now as much as you did when you were younger. Maybe more. Not necessarily because your problems are bigger … but because you are. And the bigger you get, the bigger you think you are.
So whether your problem is me-sized and your automatic garage door is no longer automatic … or your problem is God-sized and your best friend is off wandering around alone in some crazy foreign country while you have to sit and twiddle your thumbs praying that she is okay … God is big enough to handle all of it.
So stop trying to do everything by yourself. Ask God for help. He’s waiting to hear from you. And even if your problem is small, ask anyway. You have no idea how small it really is, especially from God’s perspective.