by Olu Talabi (based on RLCF Bible Study on Wednesday, April 27, 2016)
‘…, verily I say unto you, except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.’ Mathew 18:3-4.
Above verses represent two of the almost unbelievable, counter-intuitive statements made by the Lord Jesus. Consider what Christ says above: except we are converted, and become as little children, we cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven; also He says, any man who humbles himself as a little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. May God grant us grace to see the incalculable importance of humility in the life of a believer.
Let us consider also that the life of a truly humble man is one of obedience before God. This is the example we see in the Lord Jesus Christ who undoubtedly was the most humble man who ever lived. Jesus gave Himself completely to do whatever the Father called him to, even if this meant humiliation before men. This is the way we also follow. In any case, a man cannot be born again without beginning in a place of humility and sincerity before God. Being born again begins with admitting our sins and seeking God’s help in turning away from anything that displeases Him.
First, see what is meant by a ‘little child’ in above verses. Is this a child of one, two, five, seven years of age? Compare Mathew 19:13 and Luke 18:15. Luke makes clear that the ‘little children’ referred to in Mathew 19:13 were infants or babies. Yes, infants, more than any class of men, present the clearest characteristics of a humble person. These characteristics include: innocence without pretense, complete dependence on another (God) and not keeping a grudge when hurt. God seeks these attributes in our relationship to Him and indeed to others as well.
Consider the first statement made by Jesus: ‘Verily I say unto you, except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven’ (Mathew 18:3). Could it indeed be that if a man is not on the path of humility as seen in Christ, he cannot enter God’s kingdom? Compare this verse with John 3:3 (Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God). In both Mathew 18:3 and John 3:3, the Lord Jesus gives conditions for entrance into God’s kingdom, yet almost all believers know John 3:3 and less still consider Mathew 18:3. Mathew 18:3 makes clear that humility, as much as being born again, is required for entrance into God’s kingdom. Let us take this seriously.
The second statement, ‘whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven’ (Mathew 18:4), runs completely contrary to man’s assessment of a thing. To man, the greatest in God’s kingdom must be the one who has accomplished the most in life. This is not necessarily so in God’s kingdom. Jesus says the greatest in God’s kingdom is the one who is closest in humility to a little child.
Let us learn humility from Jesus (Mathew 11:29; Philippians 2:5-8). The strongest, most secure man who ever lived was also the most humble man to walk the face of the earth.