There is a quality in this world which every man and woman, every boy and girl, every grandma and grandpa, every Christian, every skeptic, every doctor and lawyer, every housewife and businessman yearns for, but mostly has not found. Jesus illustrated this most sought after yet illusive quality by taking up a little child. What is this quality?
by Jerry Gentry
"Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven." (Mat 18:3).
It's a dog eat dog world, yet Jesus said, "Except ye . . . become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven." What does it mean to become as little children? Just how can grown men and women find this illusive quality?
Everyone loves a little child. Think about a little child. I have a little child and his name is Joel Hadley. He is my grandson. He is almost one year old at this writing. He took his first steps just a few weeks ago. Yesterday, for the very first time ever, he walked all the way across the room, from me into his mother's arms. He says, "Gic," and "Gah Kah." In fact, these are two of only five words he knows. Yet he communicates with everyone. He has a quality that will make you pick him up in an instant.
What does little Joel, nearly one year old now, and every other little child his age, have that Jesus said was so important, even necessary for entrance into the kingdom of heaven?
Is it his vocabulary? No, Joel knows only five words--"Da-da," "Ma-ma, "Na-na, "Gic," and "Gah-Kah."
Is it physical stature and strength? No, Joel is less than three feet tall and cannot pick up heavy objects!
Is this quality his stamina? No, Joel easily falls when he walks on his two wobbly little legs.
Is it mental genius? No, Joel doesn't even know how to count to 3, doesn't even know his ABC's.
What is this quality Jesus taught us to have? Is it scripture memory? No, Joel doesn't know a single verse from the Bible yet.
Is it a self sacrificing spirit or an unselfish love? No, Joel wants what he wants, and wants it right now. He makes his demands known instantly.
Yet with all his weaknesses, all his faults, all his dependencies, little Joel has one quality so great that Jesus taught his disciples to become as a little child.
Jesus so many times said, "Except ye become as little children. . ." What does this mean?
He said: "Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein" (Mark 10:15).
As a little child.
What does this mean to "receive the kingdom of God as a little child?"
Jesus also told us: "At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them,
"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. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven" (Mat 18:1-4),
"Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 19:14).
Wise king Solomon wrote: "And now, O LORD my God, thou hast made thy servant king instead of David my father: and I am but a little child: I know not how to go out or come in" (1Kgs. 3:7).
What exactly did King Solomon, a grown man, the wisest and wealthiest of men, mean, when he said: "I am but a little child?" What special quality is this that Jesus so abundantly exhorts, that little Joel illustrates and that even wise king Solomon confesses?
What quality is there in a little child that God can use to judge a nation and to rule a kingdom, even use to confound the worldly wise men and set men's hearts at liberty?
The world we live in is a dangerous place. Fraud is committed around us every day. Homes are robbed. Women are mugged for their purses. Children are kidnapped for ransom. Even old ladies are raped by sadistic men. Honest people's taxes go up to pay the cost of trying to catch and prosecute such criminals. Insurance fraud drives everyone's insurance costs sky high. Innocent people even die in carefully devised automobile crashes, muggings and robberies, as the price of greed and dishonest gain.
It's a dog eat dog world we live in. News reports tell us about unethical doctors and lawyers who commit fraud by hiring trained professionals to lure innocent drivers into planned car wrecks. Then these same professionals complain of whiplash and file fraudulent insurance claims. Lawyers hire unofficial runners to pass out business cards and lure unknowing people into filing for trumped up medical damages. Their "injuries" are verified by doctors who are in cahoots with the lawyers, all for money. It has all been reported on TV news! It is a sham and the criminals are getting away with it!
We live in a dog eat dog world, but Jesus said, "Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein."
It's a world where the biggest dog with the meanest bite makes the kill, and where the little dogs tuck tail and run, and where the cats and squirrels scurry up the trees to safety, and where people cringe at the thought of violence committed, and hope it does not hit home.
It's a world where the naive soon learn not to trust anybody, where the uninitiated soon become hardened by others who take unfair advantage, where decent people are quick to look on society as a war zone. And a war zone it is. The Bible warns against such a society of men and women whose words and actions cannot be trusted.
The Bible says: "Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help" (Ps. 146:3).
No little child can enter a war zone and survive. No little child can weather a nasty street fight, ride out a battlefield's fury, persist in a bloody gun fight and come through against the odds of seasoned criminals. Does Jesus advise suicide when He says, "of such [little children] is the kingdom of God" (Mark 10:14). Does he advise pacifism and voluntary death in a violent world?
No, He is does not praise the weak and advise death. He teaches a lesson fundamental to both salvation and the kingdom of God. Hear that lesson. Learn that lesson well and find true liberty.
Jesus teaches us to trust.
But in what way must we trust?
We must trust Him in all things, much as a little child exhibits one quality above all others, that quality being unfailing trust.
What little child spurns his Mother's arms? He trusts them. What little child rejects his father's comforts? He embraces them. What little child stays angry more than a minute after a spanking is over? He forgets the crisis and trusts again, over and over. What little child fails to overwhelmingly trust again, even after being stung by a bee or being pushed down by a bully or even by being bitten by a dog? No, little children get over the crises of life and trust again and again and again, over and over. A little child knows no bitterness. Instead, he trusts.
The Bible teaches: "Blessed is that man that maketh the LORD his trust, and respecteth not the proud, nor such as turn aside to lies" (Ps. 40:4).
The Bible says: "In God have I put my trust: I will not be afraid what man can do unto me" (Ps. 56:11), and "It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man" (Ps. 118:8).
Of "trust," the dictionary says: "Firm reliance on the integrity, ability, or character of a person or thing." Trust. That is the one thing Jesus teaches His disciples above all, the one thing fundamental to both salvation and the kingdom of God.
For without trust in what Jesus Christ did at the cross for each one of us, we are yet unsaved, yet living in our sins. Do you understand trust? Have you trusted Him who paid sin's price for you personally? Can you fathom this quality that a little child demonstrates so naturally? Can you too learn to trust as a little child? Trust is a personal choice, a decision of the will based on the knowledge of God.
Yes, "Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven."
Can we define this quality of little children as love? No, little children can be quite hateful at times. Can we define it as humility? Not exactly, because little children sometimes manifest pride. Can we define it as longsuffering or peace or gentleness or goodness or faith or meekness or temperance? No, little children do not qualify in the fruits of the spirit. These must all be learned and cultivated over time.
But unfailing trust. That is what a little child manifests, so naturally. He trusts, over and over again.
Do you believe Jesus Christ and the promises written in God's Word? Do you believe he paid sin's price for you personally? Are you like a little child? Do you receive Jesus Christ in personal salvation with wide open arms, and a beaming, silly grin on your face, like a little child, who smiles and opens his arms in wide open trust?
Or, are you worn and tattered emotionally, frayed in your heart from all of life's mishaps, soured by unfulfilled expectations, hardened and embittered by disappointments of unanswered prayer? Do you receive Jesus Christ with the same trust that a little child receives his parent? If not, then learn how to become as a little child. Learn how to trust.
Jesus said, "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest" (Matt. 11:28). Do you believe Him? It's your choice.
Jesus warned: "Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein" (Mark 10:15). Will you "receive the kingdom of God [by faith] as a little child?" It's your choice.
Do you believe Christ really meant what He said: "Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him" (James 1:12). Will you choose to believe Him? Do you lack faith? The apostle Paul admonished that we "might perfect that which is lacking in your faith?" (1Ths. 3:10). The Bible says: "But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him" (Hebr. 11:6). It is our Christian duty to trust God implicitly. Jesus told doubting Thomas, and each of us: "be not faithless, but believing" (John 20:27).
What is that crown of life that Jesus promised? That crown is your position of service and rulership in the restored kingdom to Israel (Acts 1:6) on this earth. Have you trusted Christ, as a little child trusts his parent, to give you personal salvation? Do you believe Jesus who said: "Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom" (Luke 12:32)? Will you "receive the kingdom of God?" What preacher do you know who will tell you that you as a believer are destined, not just to go to heaven when you die, but in the resurrection to receive the kingdom of God? That means you will be among those who "lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years" (Rev. 20:4) at the beginning of his everlasting kingdom on this earth
Do you trust Him, put "firm reliance on [His] integrity," with all the openness of a little child, that He will someday say to you personally, "Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord" (Matt. 25:23).
Some day all people everywhere will learn how to become as a little child.
During that coming millennial reign of Christ with his saints: "The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them" (Isa. 11:6). That is trust, firm reliance on the unfailing integrity, ability, and character of Jesus Christ to fulfill his Word.
Will you trust Jesus Christ today, believe His promises, as a little child? Of such is the kingdom of heaven.