This series of blogs has been following the teachings of Jesus. Having covered the top ten teachings according to the frequency with which Christ taught (which can be seen on page 133 of the download ‘What on earth have we done with the teachings of Jesus’). We are now continuing with the additional teachings of which there are 83. The next of these additional teachings is ‘to become as children’.
Jesus said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven,” Matthew 18:3.
Receive the Kingdom of God
Receiving the Kingdom of God. What does it take to receive the Kingdom of God? It takes stepping out into the unknown with a childlike trust believing that God is who He says He is. It takes humility of heart. A deferring to another. Accepting that we do not have all the answers. It’s to be willing to receive our sustenance from another. We must come to God as a Father, our very own Father. One of the ten commandments is regarding honouring our parents. We are to honour God, our best Father.
Henry says – First, “You must be converted, you must be of another mind, must have other thoughts, before you be fit for a place in it. The pride, ambition, and affectation of honour and dominion, which appear in you, must be repented of, mortified, and reformed”. Besides the first conversion of a soul from a state of nature to a state of grace, there are after-conversions from particular paths of backsliding, which are equally necessary to salvation. Every step out of the way by sin, must be a step into it again by repentance. When Peter repented of his denying his Master, he was converted.
We must be humble as little children
Secondly, You must become as little children. Converting grace makes us like little children, not foolish as children (1 Cor. 14:20), nor fickle (Eph. 4:14), nor playful (Matt. 11:16). As children, we must desire the sincere milk of the word (1 Pet. 2:2). As children, we must not have undue cares, but leave it to our heavenly Father to care for us (Matt. 6:31). We must, as children, be harmless and inoffensive, and void of malice (1 Cor. 14:20). We must be governable, and under command (Gal. 4:2). Ultimately we must be humble as little children.
The child of a gentleman will play with the child of a beggar (Rom. 12:16). The child in rags is well enough pleased, and does not envy the child in silk. Little children have no great aims at great places, or projects to raise themselves in the world. We should in like manner behave, and quiet ourselves, Ps. 131:1, 2. As children are little in body and low in stature, so we must be little and low in spirit, and in our thoughts of ourselves. This is a temper which leads to other good dispositions. The age of childhood is the learning age.
Unless we change our mindset, we will not get in
What stress Jesus lays upon this. Without this, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. The disciples, when they put that question (Matt. 18:1), thought themselves sure of the kingdom of heaven. They were ambitious of being the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Christ tells them, that, except they change their mindset, they will not get in.
Many that appear as the great ones in the church, prove not only a little, but nothing, and are found to have no part or lot in the matter. Our Lord designs here to show the great danger of pride and ambition. Whatever profession men make, if they allow themselves in this sin, they will be rejected both from God’s tabernacle and from his holy hill. Pride threw the angels that sinned out of heaven, and will keep us out, if we be not converted from it. They that are lifted up with pride, fall into the condemnation of the devil.
The humblest are the highest in His favour.
He that humbles himself as a little child, though he may fear that he will render himself contemptible, as men of timid minds. If we throw ourselves out of the way of preferment, yet the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. The humblest Christians are the best Christians, and most like Christ, and highest in His favour. They are best disposed for the communications of divine grace, and fittest to serve God in this world, and enjoy Him in the other. They are great, for God overlooks heaven and earth, to look on such. Those are to be most respected and honoured in the church that are most humble and self-denying, for, though they least seek it, they best deserve it.
Christ takes special care for those that are humble. He champions their cause, protects them, interests Himself in their concerns, and will see that they are not wronged.
The poor in spirit are His receivers
Those that thus humble themselves will be concerned that nobody will receive them. But (Matt. 18:5), Whoever shall receive one such little child in My name, receives Me. Whatever kindnesses are done to such, Christ takes as done to Himself. Whoever entertains a meek and humble Christian, takes him into his love and friendship, and is caring and kind to him. If we do this in Christ’s name, for His sake, because He bears the image of Christ. This shall be accepted and recompensed as done to Christ.
If Christ were personally among us, we think we would never do enough to welcome him. The poor, the poor in spirit, we have always with us, and they are His receivers. See Matt. 25:35-40.
Adapted from the Matthew Henry Commentary
The Child Spirit Does the way seem a stoney one? Not one stone can impede your progress Courage. Face the future, but face it Only with a brave heart, nothing less. Do not seek to see it Seeing is not for you. You rob Faith of her sublime sweetness If this you seek to do. Just know that all is well and that faith Not seeing, but believing is the barge, That will bear you to safety over stormy waters To the security of my ark. According to your faith, be it to you Not according to what you think you see. That was My injunction to those Who sought healing from Me. If for wonder-working, healing or salvation Faith so necessary then the realm becomes clear Why I urged that all who sought entrance to My Kingdom Should become as little children drawing ever near. Faith is the child-attitude. Seek. Seek until you find. Seek in every way to become child-like Leave behind the complexity of your mind. By the late Andrew Feakin (passed away 16th March 2019)
Prayer: Father, I surrender once more to You. I choose a child-likeness to be born in me. A trusting, faith-filled spirit, knowing that You are my perfect heavenly Father and will not fail me. In the name of Christ I pray. Amen.
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