Matthew 18:3

Matthew 18:3

“Unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” But what did Jesus mean? Becoming a child is as impossible as being born again.

Matthew 18:3


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The Context

“Who is the greatest in the kingdom?” the disciples asked (Matthew 18:1). Maybe they thought Jesus would have called a name from among the twelve. They waited, hardly breathing, for His answer. Jesus calls a child to stand with them.

“Truthfully,” He responds, “Unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. So to answer your question, whoever can become like this little child, that person is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 18:3-4).”

Ouch! What Jesus was really saying is, “Look, as long as you are caught up with yourself, there’s no heavenly reward for you.”

Digging In

But what did He mean when He said, “except you become as little children”? How does an adult revert to childlike behavior? What can we learn from children?

  • Obedience – A child will, for the most part, do what he is told. He obeys the person set over him. We need to learn to say as Samuel did, “Speak Lord, your servant hears (1 Samuel 3:10).”
  • Trust – Children trust that the grown-up knows what’s best and will take care of him.
  • Humility – A child does not exalt himself. He will not try to put himself above others (that type of behavior is learned.)

How It Applies to Us

Obedience, trust, and humility are three lessons that believers have struggled with through the ages. It’s something we still grapple with.

How much easier would our lives be if we obeyed God, humbled ourselves under His hand and trusted Him to take care of us in spite of our circumstance?

If we could learn to be as children in the presence and care of our heavenly Father, a lot of the problems that we face would disappear.

We wouldn’t worry. We wouldn’t fear. Our faith would be strong. We would have joy and peace and love and laughter.

Further Reading:

Read Matthew 18:1-6. What other lessons are there for us today?

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