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July 5, 2020 | Doug Sauder
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“And anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf is welcoming me.”—Matthew 18:5 (NLT)
Have you ever seen a child interact with their father? I picture Javan, our Fort Lauderdale campus youth ministry leader, opening his arms wide as his toddler son, Eli, runs to him after not seeing him for only a few hours. As he jumps into Javan’s arms, you can see the faith and love this little boy has for his father. When I ponder the lives of most young children, I realize they live with greater faith, hope, and love than most of us tend to live with, and they don’t even understand those concepts yet!
With this exact picture in mind, Jesus answers his disciples’ question of “Who is the greatest in heaven?” (Matthew 18:1) by looking towards a child. He proclaims that whoever “humbles himself like a child” (Matthew 18:4) will be greatest in heaven. Thinking back on Eli and Javan, we can understand why Jesus made this illustration! While some may call a child’s trusting nature naivety, Jesus calls this faith—the same faith we are called to live with.
What’s even more beautiful about Jesus’ answer to his disciples is that He doesn’t solely emphasize the importance of becoming like a child, but He invites them to also welcome children. I want to point out three truths the Lord instills in our hearts through today’s Scripture.
We’re called not only to have faith like a child but to protect their faith as well. Whether it be your own children, the children you serve at church, or children in need, we’ve been called to encourage and grow the faith of children—specifically their faith in Jesus.
When we welcome children into our lives, we welcome Jesus. Jesus was once a child, yet He was not welcomed by all. King Herod wanted to kill Him and the innkeeper did not receive Him, yet the shepherds and magi alike left everything to worship Him. Jesus calls us to welcome children because in doing so we practice welcoming His own presence into our lives.
Not only do we welcome Jesus in this act, but we also reflect His image. As followers of Jesus, we’re called to reflect His image and character to others in the way we live, and what better way to illustrate the adoption we’ve received into God’s family than to welcome and adopt children into our own lives?
As we move forward with our lives, I hope we would not only fight to have child-like faith ourselves, but that we’d also practice inviting children into our lives to encourage their faith, embrace the presence of Jesus, and emulate His love.
DIG: Why would Jesus use the illustration of children instead of another faith-filled person such as Abraham or Isaac?
DISCOVER: What has hindered you from having faith like a child? How can you change that?
DO: Practice one of these truths: Encourage and grow the faith of a child in your life, receive the presence of Jesus in your life, or practice reflecting His love.