As a child, my life was all about growing up. I couldn’t wait to turn the next age. Two weeks past my ninth birthday, I think I was calling myself “9 ½.” A couple months later, I was “almost 10.” As I approach another birthday, I realize that I stopped paying that much attention to how old I was, I think around my 30th birthday. Now I have to actually figure it out when asked how old I am. I spent my entire childhood eager to become a “grown up.” Now, I’m trying to figure out how to become like a child. Luke 18:17 tells us, “Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all.” How do I become like a child? And do I really want to be that way? As I think about my eight-year-old son, I realize that he has some wonderful characteristics that would serve me well to emulate.
First, when given a task, he does it-right away. Whether it’s his school work or chores around the house, he does what he’s been told. Rarely do I have to remind him to get his tasks done. When given instruction, he just does it. What would we do differently if we were trying to become like children? When given a task, we would do it without question or baggage getting in our way. Jesus tells us in John 14:15, “If you love Me, you will obey what I command.” When God gives us instructions on how to live our lives, couldn’t we just follow those directions? You see, as a “mature” adult, sometimes I think I need to run everything through my own personal strainer to get out what I want, that I have a better way.
Second, when my son finds out something is bad, he wants nothing to do with it. For years, he had a favorite cartoon. It was one that, many times, our whole family could enjoy together. One day he told me that he wasn’t going to watch it anymore because they had said something bad on there. Months have gone by and he has never again wanted to watch that show. James 4:7-8 tells us, “Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” For this little boy, it wasn’t an agonizing decision to change. He just did it. He submitted to what he knew was right. He resisted what was wrong. As a result, he’s been able to draw nearer to God. How many times have we been on the fence with sin? Why didn’t we make a clean break? Why didn’t we resist?
Third, when this child prays, he prays like he means it. Almost daily, he prays for his sister and himself to get along, even when he is the innocent party. He prays for his sick relatives to heal. He prays for his bunny to be a good pet. And he prays for the whole world to obey God. He knows that all of these are equally do-able for God. Again in James 1:6-8, he says, “But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.”
These are godly characteristics instilled by our Creator in this sweet child. He seems to come by these things naturally. How would our lives change if we looked at things through the eyes of a child? Sometimes it is easy to let the answers be over-complicated. It is time to go back to those foundational truths found in God’s word and take them for what they are. God knew what He was talking about when He said to become like a child.
By Heidi Sprouse
Heidi and her husband Steven serve with the Rocky Ford church of Christ, in Rocky Ford, Colorado. They have been married for 12 years. They have two children, Hannah, 11 and Caleb, 8.