Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "Love Lifted Me"1 (Lyrics)
Matthew 18:1-4 – At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, "Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" He called a little child and had him stand among them. And he said: "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. (NIV)
I spend a lot of time with my toddler grandson these days. His way of being in the world got me thinking about why Jesus commended little children to us as our role model for entering the kingdom of heaven.
What is so endearing about toddlers is that they have humble hearts. They are totally themselves and not at all self-conscious, with no pretence or efforts to impress but rather being open, honest, and direct. They say and do whatever comes to mind without hesitation or concern for appearances. We always know what they like — and don't like!
I also find toddlers to be incredibly loving. Many seek connection and relationship insistently and with perseverance. Without even knowing the meaning of the word, toddlers can show us how to love and be loved, unconditionally, with no judgment or question of whether they or anyone else is deserving or worthy — just always open to love. They may be shy at first but soon will be showing us something, coaxing us to play, or asking for a story and a place beside us — if not on our lap.
Toddlers trust their caregivers, knowing that they will be well looked after and that their needs will be met. They do not worry about the future — their sole focus is on what is right in front of them, and they simply accept it and take it in with all their senses. Every day is an adventure, and they simply dive in to what the day brings. Jesus said, "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself." (Matthew 6:34a NIV) Toddlers do that with ease. They are the epitome of mindfulness and being in the moment.
Toddlers tend to be very forgiving. They may kick up a fuss when they don't get what they want now, but they don't carry a grudge. Once the emotional storm has passed, the frustration is quickly forgotten, and they move on as fast as their little legs can carry them. They forgive as God forgives — completely and unreservedly. As the psalmist wrote, "As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us." (Psalm 103:12 NIV)
We can learn a lot from our little ones. They may show us how to have lowly, humble hearts, how to love unconditionally, how to trust God as our caregiver and not worry, and how to be more forgiving.
Prayer: Lord, help us to be more like humble little children, who show us how to do the things that You taught us to do, like pursuing loving relationships, not worrying about tomorrow, and forgiving like You have forgiven us. We thank You that we are just as precious in Your sight as they are in ours. Amen.