You’ve probably heard the phrase, “the faith of a child.” While children are indeed a blessing of the Lord, most people do not pattern their lives and actions after those of their children. Children are typically considered less experienced, and therefore less wise, than adults. Overall, that makes sense. However, Jesus used children as an example for us to copy.
And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:3 (New International Version, NIV)
What did Jesus mean in this verse? How are we to become like children? Does He want us to revert to our childhood and become immature and naive? Of course not. If we look at this same verse in a couple other versions, I think it will help explain what He meant.
The Amplified Bible Classic Edition (AMPC) states:
And said, Truly I say to you, unless you repent (change, turn about) and become like little children [trusting, lowly, loving, forgiving], you can never enter the kingdom of heaven [at all].
In The Passion Translation (TPT), it reads:
“Learn this well: Unless you dramatically change your way of thinking and become teachable, and learn about heaven’s kingdom realm with the wide-eyed wonder of a child, you will never be able to enter in.”
Both of these help us understand this verse clearer. The Amplified mentions the characteristics of children that He wants believers to adopt: trusting, lowly, loving, forgiving. These are indeed valuable traits for believers to have operating in their lives. Consider how easy it is for a child to trust. Unless they have had experiences where people have let them down, most children are very trusting. It is sad that in the process of growing up, we tend to grow cynical and suspicious.
The Passion Translation helps us grasp what Jesus is expecting us to do.
We must dramatically change our way of thinking, which comes by immersing ourselves in the Word.
We must become teachable so we can be trained and molded by the Word of God.
And finally, we must approach learning about the things of God with the wide-eyed wonder of a child.
To understand what He means by wide-eyed wonder, consider a young child at Christmas. Think of their wonder at the decorations, the lights, the tree, and of course, the presents. Other than our joy in celebrating our Savior’s birth, their genuine wonder and awe is one of the things that makes the Christmas holiday enjoyable for many.
Do you think you have matured beyond such notions? Do you believe it is beneath your dignity to recapture the wide-eyed wonder of your childhood- or maybe even the wonder of your salvation when you were first born-again? Have the things of God become so routine, so commonplace that you take them for granted? If so, I hope you’ll reconsider, because according to our verse in Matthew 18, we must approach things from the perspective of a little child or we cannot enter the kingdom of heaven.
We must be intentional and purpose to lose our blasé attitudes and look afresh at our salvation, our Christian walk, and our Savior. Let’s get into the Word and recapture the wide-eyed wonder we used to have. We really can regain the joy of our salvation. Not only will we get to enter heaven, but we’ll have such fun on the way!