Like a Little Child

“About that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?” Jesus called a little child to him and put the child among them. Then he said, “I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven. So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven. “And anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf is welcoming me.”

Matthew 18:1-5, (NLT)*

A Reflection

Truth in Humility

“The Saviour gathered His disciples about Him, and said to them, “If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all.” There was in these words a solemnity and impressiveness which the disciples were far from comprehending. That which Christ discerned they could not see. They did not understand the nature of Christ’s kingdom, and this ignorance was the apparent cause of their contention.

But the real cause lay deeper. By explaining the nature of the kingdom, Christ might for the time have quelled their strife; but this would not have touched the underlying cause. Even after they had received the fullest knowledge, any question of precedence might have renewed the trouble. Thus disaster would have been brought to the church after Christ’s departure.

The strife for the highest place was the outworking of that same spirit which was the beginning of the great controversy in the worlds above, and which had brought Christ from heaven to die.

There rose up before Him a vision of Lucifer, the “son of the morning,” in glory surpassing all the angels that surround the throne, and united in closest ties to the Son of God. Lucifer had said, “I will be like the Most High” (Isaiah 14:12, 14); and the desire for self-exaltation had brought strife into the heavenly courts, and had banished a multitude of the hosts of God.

Had Lucifer really desired to be like the Most High, he would never have deserted his appointed place in heaven; for the spirit of the Most High is manifested in unselfish ministry. Lucifer desired God’s power, but not His character. He sought for himself the highest place, and every being who is actuated by his spirit will do the same. Thus alienation, discord, and strife will be inevitable. Dominion becomes the prize of the strongest. The kingdom of Satan is a kingdom of force; every individual regards every other as an obstacle in the way of his own advancement, or a steppingstone on which he himself may climb to a higher place.

While Lucifer counted it a thing to be grasped to be equal with God, Christ, the Exalted One, “made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” Philippians 2:7, 8. Now the cross was just before Him; and His own disciples were so filled with self-seeking—the very principle of Satan’s kingdom—that they could not enter into sympathy with their Lord, or even understand Him as He spoke of His humiliation for them.”

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ELLEN G. WHITE (1827-1915), one of the most published authors in the world, named one of the “100 Most Significant Americans of All Time” by the Smithsonian Institution in 2014, was a co-founder of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

*You can read The Desire of Ages in its entirety online at www.whiteestate.org/onlinebooks.


This article is part of our 2021 September / October  Issue
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The Greatest Family

One of the greatest gifts and challenges is family. There are those who value nothing above the ones who have the same blood flowing through their veins. Others experience trauma at the hands of the ones entrusted to have their best interest at heart. Jesus declared that those who are like children will enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. They are His family, part of the family of God. Join us as we explore who makes up The Greatest Family.

1 Read Matthew 18:1; Matthew 20:20; James 4:10

The disciples have asked an interesting question. They are wondering how high their status will be in the kingdom of Heaven. This question has caused problems for them, and can do the same with us. Has the desire for recognition or a high position here and now ever caused problems? How so? Share with us here at Message on Social Media using #MessageMag.

2 Read Matthew 18:2

I don’t know where they were but can we visualize the sequence of events? Disciples talk amongst each other. They muster up the courage to ask Jesus about the level they will be on when the kingdom is built. Jesus doesn’t respond. He looks around and calls a kid to the group. He then tells the group that if you want to be on a high level, you’ll need to be more like this child. There is no recorded response. What do you think the disciples thoughts were?

3 Read Matthew 18:3

The family unit often revolves around children. As you read this, maybe there’s a child that comes to mind. Mabye you give anything and everything for your children. We focus our efforts so much to make sure their imaginations and energy is engaged. Here Jesus elevates that period of life, making it a prerequisite to entering the kingdom. Why? Do you have any ideas? We’d love to hear them! #MessageMag

4 Read Matthew 18:4; Philippians 2:5; Romans 12:2

If the idea of childlikeness as a prerequisite for gaining heaven wasn’t enough, Jesus then prescribed intentionality. Seek and take positions of humility. Apologize first. Volunteer often. Be slow to speak, quick to listen, and somehow, enjoy life anyhow. Has following Jesus ever felt like you have to get the short-end of the stick? Share it with us, you’d be surprised that you’re not alone in that feeling. #MessageMag

5 Read Matthew 18:4; Philippians 2:1-5

The irony of Jesus’ assertion to become as a little child is that the promised result is “greatness.” I don’t know if His idea of greatness is the same as ours. The last time I checked, greatness is rising above, not stooping below. It’s as if Jesus wants the Kingdom to be comprised of people who are fun-loving, considerate, and who are willing to learn to be selfless. Doesn’t Jesus know that humans don’t work like that? Why is Jesus selling a dream?

6 Read Revelation 3:18

The difficulty in experiencing what Jesus has taught here is that everyone has a reason to look out for themselves first. If anything, the culture we are surrounded by subtlety conveys that being distrustful and guarded is the healthy way to navigate life. The problem with that mindset is that it doesn’t allow the follower of Jesus to have fun, and be present the way a child does almost naturally. A family of children wouldn’t be perfect but it would squeeze every bit of enjoyment out of life without the pretenses we gain as adults

7 Read Matthew 18:5 ; Revelation 14:1

Children love being around children. When I go somewhere with my son, a common question he asks is “are there going to be other kids there?” Kids are often gifted with quickly welcoming other kids to join whatever they are doing. Jesus says that if you welcome the childlike ones you have welcomed Him. Maybe the family of God would benefit from not being so grown-up. Instead, by learning from our children we may be able to become The Greatest Family.

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Rashad Burden is the pastor of the Mount Olive and Shiloh Seventh-day Adventist Churches in Southern Alabama.


This article is part of our 2021 September / October  Issue
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