Become Like Little Children
BECOME LIKE CHILDREN
Earlier this week I had a lady call me…and I asked her how her oldest son and his girlfriend was doing…and she said, “I have been praying about that! I am kind of concerned!”
- I asked her, “Why, what is wrong?” And she said, “That girl needs to grow up!”
- Have you ever been told that? “You need to grow up! Act like an adult!”
I think it is interesting though that in the verses that ______ read that Jesus indicates that if we want to be “in the kingdom of heaven” we need to do just the opposite…we need to be like “children.”
- Look at this…look at verse 13.
In verse 13 we are told that “some children were brought to Jesus that He might lay His hands on the and pray”…and Jesus’ disciples rebuked them.
- I am sure they had good intentions.
- Perhaps they were trying to protect Jesus.
- Or it may be that they thought that Jesus was too important and that the children were too insignificant…we don’t know for sure.
- But what ever the case, the disciples rebuke those who are bringing their children to Christ.
And Jesus isn’t happy about it and He tell His disciples to “Let the children alone and do not hinder them from coming to Me; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”
Now, what does He mean by that?
- What is there about little children that allows them to possess the kingdom of God?
- I want to know because that is what I want.
- So what is it they do that allows the “kingdom of heaven to belong to them?”
Most think that when Jesus says that “the kingdom of heaven belongs to children” it is because they are so honest.
- But wait a minute.
- I admit in a lot of ways children are honest…maybe too honest.
- But at the same time, when they make a mess and you ask them, “Who made that mess?”
- Or you ask them, “Did you pull your sisters hair?”, sometimes little children can be the most deceptive little creatures on the face of the earth.
Some say that when Jesus says that “the kingdom of heaven belongs to children or to those who are like children” that we are to be as unselfish as they are….because little children love to share.
- Who are we kidding?
- The first word that most kids learn is, “Mine.”
- So what is Jesus talking about here when He says that “the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these?”
Well, I think the answer is found in the story that follows starting in vs. 16. Look at what it says:
And behold, one came to Him…
If you look down in verse 20, Matthew says he was young; Mark says this man was rich; and Luke says he was a ruler. So we call commonly call this guy a rich, young, ruler.
- Not only was he a young, rich, ruler…he was also a moral man.
- He was everything we wish we could vote for in November.
- He is the kind of man most people wish their daughter could marry.
- And the thing about it is churches usually have to pursue and chase these kinds of guys…but he comes to Jesus!
He comes to Jesus and he has power, position, youth, health, riches…but he is not satisfied.
- He is troubled by a question about eternal life?
- So, he asks Jesus, “Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may obtain eternal life?”
And look at Jesus’ response in vs. 17. Jesus says, “Why are you asking Me about what is good? There is only One who is good; but if you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.”
- Jesus says, “Why are you asking Me about what is good? Whatever God commands is good…so simply do what God commands…keep the commandments!”
And in verse 18 the young man asks, “Which ones?”
And look now at Jesus’ response to this young man’s question about “What shall I do to obtain eternal life?” Vs. 18: “You shall not commit murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; 19 Honor your father and mother; and You shall love your neighbor as yourself. ”
And look at this young man’s reply…and this is important.
- This young man says, “All these things I have kept; what am I still lacking?”
He comes to Jesus…and he asks Jesus “what He must do to obtain eternal life?”
- And Jesus says, “Keep the commandments.”
- And this young man says, “I have already been doing that.”
- And the implication is he believes that he needs to be doing something else!
- Something is lacking…something is missing.
- What he is doing isn’t enough?
And brethren, what this young man is really asking is, “What is the price?” “What is the cost?” “What must I do to earn eternal life?”
- He is trying to pile up enough credits with God to saved!
And some today, perhaps some of us do the same thing.
- Some have this idea that we have a balance sheet with God.
- And on that balance sheet God writes down all these good things and on the other side He writes down all our bad things.
- And we are hoping that on the Day of Judgment when God pulls out our balance sheet that the good things will outnumber the bad.
- And if they do, then you get into heaven!
Some, just like this young man, think that heaven is just one more payment away.
- That just a few more good deeds will swing the balance in your favor.
- “What is the next rung up the ladder Jesus?”
Now look at verse 21. Jesus says, “Ok. You need something else to do? “Go and sell everything you have and give it to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven, and then come and follow me.”
- And we cannot imagine the impact that those words must have had.
In fact, the next verse says that when this young man heard what Jesus said, that this young “went away grieved for he was one who owned much property.”
Now look at verse 23.
Jesus lets this young man go and then Jesus looks around and says to His disciples, “Truly I say to you, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 “And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”
- And the Bible says that the disciples were “astonished” at His words.
- Do you know why?
They were astonished because Jesus contradicted what they had always been taught and believed.
- They believed that riches are positive proof of the blessing of God.
- You can find that on many TV stations today, where some preacher will stand up and say, give to God and he will give back to you and make you rich because God wants everyone to have money.
- Prosperity theology is not new.
Jesus says, “Truly I say to you, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”
Now most people don’t hear this.
- What most people hear Jesus say here is something all together different.
- Because what most people hear Jesus say here is, “It is hard for a man who misuses his wealth, and hoards it and doesn’t give liberally to enter the kingdom of God.”
- That is not what He said.
He said, “It is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven”, period!
- Wealth is a handicap.
- Wealth is a handicap because wealth promotes a false sense of security.
- Go to Revelation 3 and look at the church in Laodicea?
- The church at Laodicea was saying, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing.”
- But the Lord said, “You do not know that you are wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind and naked.”
The problem with having too much money, is that when you feel empty you can always go and buy a new toy that temporarily dulls the pain that was supposed to drive you to God.
- So your abundance actually becomes your deficiency.
- And that is a hard thing to hear and so Christians have tried not to hear it for centuries and so they have come up with all kinds of ways to make Jesus say something here He doesn’t say.
- But the truth is, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”
Now, this wasn’t easy for the disciples to hear…so look at what they ask in verse 25: “Then who can be saved?”
- “If riches can’t save you…if power and respect can’t save you…if keeping the law can’t save you.
- If being religious can’t save you…then who can be saved?”
Look at Jesus’ answer in verse 26: “With men it is impossible…”
- Do you see that?
- Man cannot save himself.
- You can be as powerful as you can be…you can be as rich as you can be.
- You can be as good morally…you can be well respected.
- You can be as religious as you can be…you can keep all the laws you want…
- But it is impossible for man to save himself!
But look at what Jesus says next.
“…but with God; all things are possible.”
- Salvation is not a matter of piling up credits with God.
- If you do have money and if you have used your money in good causes, those good causes on which you have spent your money are not marks that put you a little higher up on a ladder than anyone else.
- Salvation is a matter of grace.
And grace is not what some think it is.
- You know, you do the will of God 85% of the time and grace kind of makes up the difference.
- Grace doesn’t make up the difference.
- Grace is everything.
When it comes to saving ourselves we are totally helpless.
- And that is something that doesn’t sit well with adults.
- It doesn’t sit well with adults because we don’t like for anyone to do anything for us.
- And we don’t like to be indebted to any one.
- And we like to think that “we are adults and, therefore, we can take care of ourselves.”
- We want to earn it.
And it is that attitude that causes Jesus to say back up in verse 14 that “we need to become like children.”
- Because you see, children cannot earn anything.
- In their homes they cannot pay for a single nights lodging.
- They do not buy a single meal.
- And yet they have no problem with receiving all of it.
And so Jesus says, “Instead of thinking you can earn salvation yourself…become like children and realize you are helpless…and be willing to receive that which God is willing to give.
And unless we become like children and receive the salvation that God, by His grace, gives to us…then like Jesus says back in verse 14…we shall not enter into the kingdom of God.
People, and perhaps some of us, struggle with this.
- People think that if they can only do enough good things…if they can only do more good things than bad…then God will have no choice but to save them.
- We often do the same thing…we know someone who is a super nice person…very kind…perhaps even very religious…but they have never come to Christ…and we think, “They are so nice and have done so many good things, sure they must be saved.”
- As good as you may be…you have nothing to offer that can pay your debt of sin.
- Only Christ can pay that debt…and it is only when you come to Christ as a child would…helpless…having nothing to offer…relying completely on Him…that the kingdom of God can and will be yours.
- The people who keep score in this life are going to be very surprised in the next.
- Who in the world is going to be saved?
- The answer is only the children…only the children of God.
© Sunset Ridge Church of Christ 2023