Ezekiel 2:8–3:4; Psalm 119:14, 24, 72, 103, 111, 131;Matthew 18:1-5, 10, 12-14
Saint Jane Frances de Chantal, Religious
Unless you turn and become like children … (Matthew 18:3)
We’ve heard this adage so many times—just be childlike! It can evoke an image of angelic figures innocently clasping hands in prayer or little children playing together so nicely. But in fact, being childlike is one of the hardest biblical metaphors to unravel. How do we, as mature adults, become like children? We have jobs to manage, bills to pay, families to take care of, and difficult decisions to make. Isn’t Jesus being just a bit naïve here?
Being childlike doesn’t mean being weak or indecisive. Jesus isn’t asking us to become irresponsible or incompetent. So just what is he asking us to do?
Let’s start by looking at Jesus himself. He is the epitome of childlikeness. We can see this in the way he related to Mary and Joseph—and to his heavenly Father. So when Jesus tells us that the Son can do nothing of himself, but only what he sees the Father doing (John 5:19), he isn’t being overly pious. He is telling us that a child looks to his or her father for direction and guidance and teaching. He is telling us that even the maker of the universe humbled himself to submit to his Father!
But this attitude of submission also led Jesus to action. Think of how Jesus’ love for his Father led him to drive the money changers out of the Temple! Think, too, how Jesus’ childlike reliance on his Father helped him resist the devil’s temptations. He refused to let pride and self-sufficiency have the upper hand.
Even if you feel the weight of all your responsibilities, you can still take up a childlike attitude. You can do this by putting a priority on prayer because that’s where you’ll hear your Father teaching you and guiding you through the pressures of your life. Instead of squaring your shoulders and saying, “I’ve got this, Lord!” go ahead and listen to him. It may seem childish and unnecessary—even immature—at first. But over time, you’ll find that just like the meek, it’s the childlike who will inherit the kingdom!
“Father, strip away my self-sufficiency so that I can look to you for guidance. Teach me how to be your child!”~WAU