What does “become like little children” mean? How are we to come to Jesus as a child? Six faith lessons come to mind about what children can teach us about childlike faith.
CHILDREN TRUST COMPLETELY.
The greater the love they sense, the greater the trust they show. The heart of childlike faith is a deep sense of trust. I loved the way my kids would jump into my arms. At first, I couldn’t be far from them and they would lean forward reaching out to me in their meagre attempt to jump. But the longer they experienced they could trust me the more they would fully rely on me.
FAITH LESSON #1 Trust God freely and fully. Jump into His arms.
CHILDREN ARE DRAWN TO LOVE.
Every little one loves to be touched, hugged, and affirmed. They love to sit on your lap. They feel safe in your arms. Jesus knew children needed love and that’s why they sought to get close to Him in His day. You know the story how Jesus “lost it” on His disciples when they tried to keep little children from getting to Him.
People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it. And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them” (Mark 10:13-16 NIV)
FAITH LESSON #2 Get close, really lean into your heavenly father. God wants to bless you and encourage you as His child. He wants you to call Him Abba, father—literally “Daddy” (Romans 8:15).
CHILDREN ARE AUTHENTIC.
By nature children are open, simple, and straightforward. They haven’t developed the cunning and illusive defence mechanism of denial, which older people practice. You see by their conduct what their real character is. It takes a while before a little one becomes an accomplished deceiver. Proverbs 20:11 says, “Even small children are known by their actions, so is their conduct really pure and upright?” In the same way you can see through the charade of little children, God sees right through you and me. “…People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).
FAITH LESSON #3 Be honest with God in a childlike innocence.
CHILDREN ARE COPYCATS.
We hear the phrase, “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.” This is because children become like their parents. Just as impressionable children imitate their parents, we are to copy Christ’s pattern of living in all we do. That’s the point Paul was getting at in Ephesians 5:1-2, “Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”
FAITH LESSON #4 Copy our Lord in everything.
CHILDREN LEARN THROUGH DISCIPLINE.
We have our family guidelines, boundaries, and limits because we love our kids. These corrective measures are designed to bring the best out of them. During times of giving out discipline to one of our kids, both my wife Donalyn and I would always reassure them with this truth: “There is nothing you will ever do to make me quit loving you.” We wanted them to feel secure in our love. God, as our Father, is just the same. Nothing can separate us from His love (Romans 8:39). And He too is more concerned about our character than our comfort. He wants us to become Christlike—conformed to His Son’s image (Romans 8:29). He wants us to trust him during adversity and through correction.
Faith Lesson #5 Submit to God’s discipline.
WHAT CHILDREN LEARN EARLY TAKES ROOT AND LASTS LONG.
Child psychologists maintain that 80 per cent of who a child turns out to be is determined by age five. The best parenting plan lays down a great foundation for life in the early years. We are wise to spend a lot of time with our children, teaching, guiding, training, and coaching them on all things truly valuable. That’s why Solomon in his wisdom said, “Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6 NASB).
FAITH LESSON #6 Learn everything possible about Jesus and it will take deep root in your heart and endure the test of time.
Wise is the parent who has a childlike faith and lives and breathes love for God in an authentic and lasting way. Humble yourself and learn to grow your faith in this new childlike way. I’d love to hear how your children are stretching your faith.