As you read your way through this publication, you will come to understand that we take the care of children seriously at Insight for Living. Jesus also regarded children highly, and He used their simple faith as a model for his disciples and the rest of us to follow.
Matthew 18 begins with a question: “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” In other words, who will call the shots, and who gets the “white glove” treatment? The disciples must have felt pretty awkward when the answer came: Children should be your example!
I’ll bet you could have heard a pin drop. In the kingdom, childlike humility is the noblest attribute. So what is it about children, and their approach to life, that is so appealing to God? And dare we learn something from their ways?
First, children are teachable. They soak up information at a rate that spins the heads of mere adults. A typical five-year-old knows 5,000 words and learns 3,000 new words by the time their sixth birthday comes around. To put that in perspective, the entire New Testament was written with a vocabulary of less than 5,000 words. At the same time that they learn these amazing numbers of new words, they also tackle telling the time, riding a bike, catching frogs, the best trees to climb – the list goes on. In contrast, Jesus found his disciples to be a bit “slow on the uptake” on several occasions:
Peter said, “Explain the parable to us.” “Are you still so dull?” Jesus asked them. (Matthew 15:15-16 NIV)
Jesus asked, “You of little faith, why are you talking among yourselves about having no bread? Do you still not understand? Don’t you remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered?” (Matthew 16:8-9)
Again on the road to Emmaus: He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken!” (Luke 24:25)
As well as being teachable, children are leadable. They are unafraid to put their trust in someone else. They understand they need help, because they know they don’t know everything (yet!). I know that those of you with teenagers in the house are rolling your eyes and pining for the good old days when they thought you had all the answers.
But how often do we as adults act out like teenagers before God? “I know you said ‘(fill in the blank)’ but I didn’t think you meant it.” Constantly pushing the envelope of what we can get away with; constantly putting ourselves at the centre of the universe.
Children are teachable and leadable and they are applauded as role models for the disciples among us. This also makes them vulnerable to those with evil intentions. We do need to learn from them, and yet do everything we can to safeguard them. In this we must be “shrewd as snakes and innocent as doves.”
Copyright © 2010 by Insight for Living UK