June 25 I Thursday
“Whoever humbles himself like this child...”
—Matthew 18:4, ESV
One of the favourite discourses amongst the disciples was Who is the greatest? We will find multiple occasions in the Gospels of the disciples disputing this very topic. In Matthew 18, we find that the disciples went to Jesus and asked Him, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” (Matthew 18:1). Jesus then takes a child and says, “Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:4). It is interesting that Jesus’s answer to greatness is humbleness and from all the examples that He could have chosen to illustrate this humbleness, He uses a child.
Why a child? When children are born into a family, they are incapable of supplying their own food, clothing, shelter and warmth. Children wake up in the morning with no means of putting food on the table, no means of clothing themselves and no means of deciding what the events of the day will be. Children are born with a sense of dependence. Yet, children never doubt for a moment on whether or not these crucial means to living will be available to them because there is a sense of trust in the ability of their parents to provide them with these things. The humility of a child is in his or her dependence.
When our children were younger and we were living in England, we travelled all over the world. We took our children to every continent at some point and they never ever worried about the ticket, whether we were getting on the right plane, where we were going to stay or whether we would come back again. My children simply trusted my wife and I to take care of all these things.
Children are born totally dependent but as they physically grow, we teach them to one day become independent. But spiritually, it is the reverse process. We learn to move from an independent spirit to utter dependence on God as the one who directs our paths and provides our resources. Humility in a child is expressed by their awareness of a lack of self-sufficiency, which leads to a complete dependence on someone else.
Dependence on resources outside of one’s self is natural for a child and it is the first principle of spiritual growth. Oftentimes, we focus on becoming independent rather than dependent on God. Growth in the Christian life, however, is a growth from independence to dependence. May we embrace our identity as a child of God and stop living life spiritually independent but humbly dependent on our Heavenly Father to take care of us.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You that I can trust in You to provide for all my needs. As I grow older each year, help me to live humbly dependent on You.