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What's the Difference between Being Childlike and Childish? (Y1.T2.D8)

Unsplash; "Lam Rmah"


As I sit in a studio apartment in downtown Baltimore, my six-year-old grandson happily bounces around the room. I seldom write when the boys are here, and I find it very interesting on the day that I do, God has me blending the gospel account of Jesus drawing a child to him to help solve an argument.

The adults debated about who was the greatest.

Jesus replied, "Most certainly I tell you, unless you turn and become as little children, you will in no way enter into the Kingdom of Heaven" (Matthew 18:3).

Looking to Leo, I think Jesus can’t really want me to become a person who jumps on the furniture and whines when things don't go my way. First Corinthians 13:11 teaches us, "When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I felt as a child, I thought as a child. Now that I have become a man, I have put away childish things."

And then it hits me. Jesus used this example when his disciples were acting childish, demanding to know which of them was better than another. This one-upmanship was selfish and immature. Jesus values humbleness, which makes all the difference.

As an adult, I can examine my whole life and see abundance. However, I can't say I embrace my God-given joy and peace every day. I allow exhaustion, disappointment, and insecurity to consume too many hours. All the adults I know do that. But you know who doesn't?


Playground scrapes don't get them down. When something upsets them, it barely lingers. Everyone I know under the age of ten has no limits to their ability to forgive. Forget calculating seventy times seven (Matthew 18:22) these kids forgive without counting.

Therein lies the difference. Being childish makes everything all about me, me, me, while being childlike is about discovery outside of self. Healthy children live abundantly every day, and I want to do the same.

Give Me a Childlike Faith

33a He came to Capernaum, (Mark 9:33a)

46 An argument arose among them about which of them was the greatest. (Luke 9:46)

33a and when he was in the house he asked them, “What were you arguing among yourselves on the way?”

34 But they were silent, for they had disputed with one another on the way about who was the greatest. (Mark 9:33a–34)

47a Jesus, perceiving the reasoning of their hearts, (Luke 9:47a)

35a He sat down, and called the twelve; (Mark 9:35a)

1 In that hour the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who then is greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?” (Matthew 18:1)

Matthew 18:2, Mark 9:35b–36a, Luke 9:47b

3 and said, “Most certainly I tell you, unless you turn and become as little children, you will in no way enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. 4 Whoever therefore humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven. (Matthew 18:3–4)

Matthew 18:5, Mark 9:36b–37, Luke 9:48a

Mark 9:35b, Luke 9:48b

6 but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to stumble, it would be better for him if a huge millstone were hung around his neck and that he were sunk in the depths of the sea.

7 “Woe to the world because of occasions of stumbling! For it must be that the occasions come, but woe to that person through whom the occasion comes! 8 If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life maimed or crippled, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into the eternal fire. 9 If your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into the Gehenna of fire. (Matthew 18:6–9)

Mark 9:38–39a, Luke 9:49–50a

39b But Jesus said, “Don’t forbid him, for there is no one who will do a mighty work in my name, and be able quickly to speak evil of me. (Mark 9:39b)

Mark 9:40, Luke 9:50b

41 For whoever will give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because you are Christ’s, most certainly I tell you, he will in no way lose his reward. (Mark 9:41)

15 “If your brother sins against you, go, show him his fault between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained back your brother. 16 But if he doesn’t listen, take one or two more with you, that at the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the assembly. If he refuses to hear the assembly also, let him be to you as a Gentile or a tax collector. 18 Most certainly I tell you, whatever things you bind on earth will have been bound in heaven, and whatever things you release on earth will have been released in heaven. 19 Again, assuredly I tell you, that if two of you will agree on earth concerning anything that they will ask, it will be done for them by my Father who is in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there I am in the middle of them.”

21 Then Peter came and said to him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Until seven times?”

22 Jesus said to him, “I don’t tell you until seven times, but, until seventy times seven. 23 Therefore the Kingdom of Heaven is like a certain king, who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24 When he had begun to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. 25 But because he couldn’t pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, with his wife, his children, and all that he had, and payment to be made. 26 The servant therefore fell down and knelt before him, saying, ‘Lord, have patience with me, and I will repay you all!’ 27 The lord of that servant, being moved with compassion, released him and forgave him the debt.

28 “But that servant went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him one hundred denarii, and he grabbed him and took him by the throat, saying, ‘Pay me what you owe!’

29 “So his fellow servant fell down at his feet and begged him, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I will repay you!’ 30 He would not, but went and cast him into prison until he should pay back that which was due. 31 So when his fellow servants saw what was done, they were exceedingly sorry, and came and told their lord all that was done. 32 Then his lord called him in and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. 33 Shouldn’t you also have had mercy on your fellow servant, even as I had mercy on you?’ 34 His lord was angry, and delivered him to the tormentors until he should pay all that was due to him. 35 So my heavenly Father will also do to you, if you don’t each forgive your brother from your hearts for his misdeeds.” (Matthew 18:15–35)

Meditation Moment

Dear God,

From the lips of babes and infants you have established strength, so You might silence the enemy and the avenger (Psalm 8:2). Since without faith it is impossible to please You, I believe You exist and seek a life in You (Hebrews 11:6). Help me put away wickedness, deceit, hypocrisies, envies, and evil speaking. Like a newborn baby, I long for the pure milk of the Word (1 Peter 2:1–2).


Meditation Music Link


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