READING: Exodus 16-18, Matthew 18:1-20
“Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”
Can you see the scene? Jesus’ disciples were arguing among themselves about who was the greatest in the kingdom. And, they were having that argument even after they had failed miserably at casting the demon out of the son in yesterday’s devotion. Thus, they show us that pride causes us to ignore our failure as if it never happened; arrogance is so powerful that we can somehow still believe we’re great after a monumental failure. The battle is ongoing and tenacious.
Into that kind of scene Jesus introduced a little child as a model of humility: “Then He called a child to Him and had him stand among them. ‘I assure you,’ He said, ‘unless you are converted and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven’” (Matt. 18:2-3). That humility, though, was not simply an intentional process to reject pride, as children don’t typically think that way. Rather, it was a trusting, needy dependence on the father. It was a relationship of vulnerability, with the child totally leaning on the parent to accomplish anything. For Jesus’ disciples who too often operated in their own strength, this image must have been gut-wrenching and challenging – especially when He told them they could not enter the kingdom of heaven if they weren’t changed from their self-dependent arrogance to God-dependent childlikeness.
Frankly, living in childlikeness is difficult in North American Christianity. Those of us who lead churches are trained as professionals, seemingly equipped in our training to handle the tasks of ministry. The Christian world recognizes us not for our humility, but for our achievements. Even laypersons sometimes jockey for position and power, and we accept it as the norm. Most of us talk more about childlike dependence than live it – and that admission ought to alarm us. Those who depend on self cannot enter the kingdom of heaven.
On the other hand, the greatest in the kingdom is he who fully depends on God, leans on Him for everything, and finds great joy in pleasing Him. We need to pray with the faith of a child that God would make us like a child again.
- Evaluate your life in terms of dependence, helplessness, and complete trust before God. Be honest.
- Serve the Father today in complete obedience. You have nothing apart from Him.
PRAYER: “Lord, make me childlike before You. Do whatever it takes to make me dependent again.”
TOMORROW'S READING: Exodus 19-20, Matthew 18:21-35