April 9 – “Childish vs. Childlike”

Today, I’m excited to introduce another writer for our devotions. Susan Smith is the Kids’ Cove Coordinator for LSA.  She is a wife and mother of 2 precious girls. She’s a leader for small groups, and also helps in MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers). She’s one busy person, but hopefully she’ll be able to find time to contribute to these devotions occasionally.

By Susan Smith, LSA Kids’ Cove Coordinator

Matthew 18:1-5

At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.

After reading this scripture, two types of faith come to mind: ‘childish’ and ‘child-like.’ While both tie back to the idea of childhood, they have two very different pictures that they paint. For argument’s sake, ‘childish’ creates a negative image, such as immaturity, selfishness, maybe even silliness. ‘Child-like,’ on the other hand, has a more positive message: innocence, trust, and unconditional love.

This Scripture begins with the disciples asking Jesus a question. Matthew’s description doesn’t really explain how the disciples came to ask this question. Looking at Luke 9:46, however, we see, “46 An argument started among the disciples as to which of them would be the greatest.” This gives us a better picture of why they came to Jesus with the question in Matthew 18:1 “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” Jesus knew their hearts. They had been acting childish, selfish in their thinking, lacking humility. Jesus, as he did so often, took this opportunity to teach the disciples an important lesson. Calling a child over, he painted a clear picture of the type of faith he expected of his disciples, a child-like faith. Dr. Wess Stafford, in his book Too Small to Ignore, explains this passage this way:

Jesus was speaking of humility. Lowliness of heart and mind. A teachable spirit. A willingness, even a delight, to learn. The kind of simple faith that wouldn’t have walked tentatively on the water as Peter did but would have skipped and frolicked, completely secure in the Master’s presence and protection. The trust that allows one to live contentedly by another’s rules, even without fully understanding them. The need to love and be loved that simply cannot hold a grudge but is quick to forgive, confident that love can go on. 

To humble ourselves like a child, fully reliant and trusting God without knowing all the answers, can be scary. As adults we have so much that can skew our faith: past experiences, worldly desires, anxieties about tomorrow, the list goes on. Children however have an overwhelming desire to have faith like no other. They have no preconceived ideas or worldly knowledge to fill their heads. They “skip” across the water keeping their eyes on Jesus the whole time fully believing without an ounce of doubt that he would embrace them with open arms. What would that look like? To keep our eyes on Jesus, keeping our faith strong and fully dependent on Him? Wouldn’t this kind of faith give us more peace? Worry and doubt tend to take years off our lives. Why not focus on the promises and power of Jesus instead?

It’s ok to not have all the answers and ask questions, but in the end God asks us to trust that He knows what’s best. We’re asked to trust that He goes before us. Remember that God’s got this! Matthew 6:34 says, “Don’t worry about tomorrow for tomorrow will worry about itself.” So let’s find comfort in knowing God’s in control, and choose to have Child-like faith, humbling ourselves before the Lord. 

What type of faith do you want to have?

Our song for today is Trust in You by Lauren Daigle

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