Thursday, May 29, 2014

Still Humble, As This Little Child

Life of Christ 92

          We saw, in Life of Christ 91, that Jesus dealt with the proud Apostles, desirous of the chief place in the Kingdom, by placing a little child on His lap and calling on them to be humble, like that child (Matthew 18.1-6, Mark 9.33-37). The humility of little children is seen in that they eagerly serve, are naturally free from prejudice, and unashamedly dependent. In this post we will look at three additional evidences of the humility of little children, and examine how this may be applied to us.
          Fourthly, their humility is seen in their willingness to receive instruction. As a teacher, perhaps the most frustrating phrase you can hear from a student is not 'I don't understand', but rather, 'I know.' The only person you can't teach, in the final analysis, is the one who already knows everything. Little children combine, very wonderfully, a humility that is willing to learn with a literal childlike faith that just trusts what the teacher says.
          I can remember how well this was driven home to me, years ago, as a teacher, when once a week I was assigned to monitor a kindergarten class for an hour each week. It became my custom to gather them around me on the floor of their classroom, and tell them a story. I soon learned I didn't need to plan my stories ahead of time for whatever I told them they eagerly accepted as the gospel truth. Yes, I confess I had great fun with that, happily explaining many of life's mysteries with completely bogus explanations. To this day I am afraid that some of them may still think root beer was discovered when a tree root on a cave roof fell into a little boy's glass of drinking water. But even in this silliness we see a sweet humility and faith.
          One of the identifying characteristics of a fool in the book of Proverbs is his refusal to receive instruction (Proverbs 1.7). Conversely, one who has enough humility to embrace instruction Solomon labeled as a wise man (Proverbs 9.9). Are you and I as teachable as a little child?
          Fifthly, their humility is seen in their sweet obedience to authority. There is a large difference between not understanding how to obey, and just blatantly refusing to do what you are told. The former can be taught; the latter can only be disciplined until his will yields. But what is the root of such willful disobedience? I believe it is pride. 'Only by pride cometh contention' (Proverbs 13.10). The willful spirit that sets itself against the commands of its authority, and fights with them comes only by a pride that says, 'A person like you can't tell a person like me what to do.'
          We've all seen this illustrated in the grocery store, as some willful screaming child turns the checkout line into a torture chamber for the rest of us. Contrast that with the yielded, obedient child, waiting quietly and still beside his mother as the line crawls forward and you see my point. Do we obey God like that good little child, or do we, in pride, insist we know better than He does, and insist on getting our own way as we refuse to obey?
          Sixthly, their humility is seen in their worship of God. Little children kneel easily. Their lisping voices sweetly and instantly ask God to protect them. Their willingness to pray about things, to ask God to intervene, puts us to shame. Because they are humble they believe you when you teach them that God loves them, is always with them, and wants to help them, so they just naturally turn to Him.
          Humility is so intrinsic to the worship of God that it is found in the very definitional concept of the word. 'I am not worthy. You are.' Humility is so intrinsic to the worship of God that it is found in the posture. If you study the Bible you will see that every person who met God responded the same way: they fell down prostrate at His feet.
          Do we worship God with the same instinctive trust? Do we approach Him, in prayer, with the same childlike faith? Do we view Him as so big and us as so small? Do we revel in His love and care for us?

          So you want to be great in God's kingdom. Okay. Here's what you do. Humble yourself, as a little child. There is no other path.    

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