Matthew 18:2-4 “Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.’” Jesus states that unless you are converted and become as little children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Since I am confident that you want to be part of the kingdom of heaven, let us consider how you need to be converted and become as a little child.
There are some characteristics of children that we do not want to emulate. For example, when a child throws a tantrum to get what he wants, that is not a good thing. However, small children typically have some good characteristics that we should desire. The first characteristic to consider is that they are dependent upon their parents. Small children do not have the maturity, knowledge or physical ability to take care of themselves; they need their parents. In the same way, we need to depend upon God, rather than upon ourselves. Philippians 4:19 “And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” One of the main reasons we pray to God is to request help for our needs. Jesus criticized those who did not pray as they should. Then He said in Matthew 6:8 “Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him.” The purpose of prayer is not to tell God what we need, because He already knows what we need. We should pray to God in humility to express our dependence upon Him and request his help. Hebrews 4:16 “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” We are also dependent upon God to show us how to live our lives and the direction we should take. Jeremiah 10:23 “O Lord, I know the way of man is not in himself; it is not in man who walks to direct his own steps.” We should be dependent upon God just as little children are dependent upon their parents.
Little children must be obedient to their parents. Children have to be trained to develop good habits and the skills they need. Children do not understand the dangers that surround them. Do not run into the street; do not touch the hot stove; do not go with strangers. Children need to learn to obey their parents because the parents are watching out for their good. In the same way, we must obey the commandments of God because they also are for our good. John 14:21 “He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.” 1 John 2:3-5 “Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, ‘I know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him.” We must keep the commandments of our heavenly Father just as little children must obey the commandments of their parents.
Little children are teachable and desire to emulate their parents. We have probably all seen small children copying the actions and words of their parents. They learn from the instruction and example of their parents. In the same way, we follow the example of Jesus. 1 Peter 2:21-23 “For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: ‘Who committed no sin, nor was deceit found in His mouth’; who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously.” Jesus gave us many teachings and examples to follow. We must follow Jesus as little children follow the teaching and example of their parents.
Children want to grow up to be adults. The apostle Peter encouraged us to be converted and desire the word so that we may grow spiritually. 1 Peter 2:1-3 “Therefore, laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking, as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby, if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious.” The Word of God teaches us how we can grow and mature spiritually.
Little children typically are humble. They know that they do not have the strength, the knowledge, and the ability to do the things that adults can do. School teachers often like working with small children because they are humble and like sponges, soaking up knowledge. 1 Peter 5:5-7 “Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for ‘God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’ Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” Perhaps this characteristic, more than any other, is how we must be converted and become like little children. Jesus said in Matthew 18:4 “Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”
Perhaps there are other characteristics of little children that you can see that you need to emulate. I encourage you to be converted and take on the appropriate characteristics of little children so that you can enter the kingdom of heaven.