October 22 (Daily reading: Matthew 18) Sometimes we need to recapture the child who lives within us. Not to be childish, as the disciples were when they asked Jesus, “Who then is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” (v. 1). The child in us can make us want to be first. To answer them, and to teach them an invaluable lesson, Jesus invited a child to join them, and said, “Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (vv. 3-4).
The mention of children in our text has both a literal and symbolic meaning. Mark wrote that when the disciples prevented people from bringing children to Jesus, Jesus said: “Permit the children to come to Me; do not hinder them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these” (Mk. 10:14). Jesus loved children! But we need also to see the symbolism. Jesus said we should “become like children,” and that “the kingdom of God belongs to (them).” Why did Jesus make an appeal to our childlike nature?
Notice the word “converted,” which indicates change. To make a change from our natural state of being prideful, Jesus said we are to humble ourselves as a child. But children are not always humble! They fight over toys; they blame others when they get into trouble. Jesus was talking about position. Every child is in a position of humility, by the very fact of being a child. Children depend on their parents, or someone, to provide for them, to take care of them. We are God’s children! We must accept that we depend on Him for everything. We must learn, in Micah’s words, “to walk humbly with our God” (Mic. 6:8).
– Al Gary