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Suffer The Little Children
June 29, 2008
When the apostles tried to keep the little children from Jesus, He was not happy with that. He said that His followers must allow the little children to come to Him. He further stated that if His followers do not receive the kingdom of God as little children, they cannot enter it! We examine here a few of the characteristics of little children that would befit us as Christians.
Suffer The Little Children
by Bernie Parsons
Presented to the Globe Church of Christ on 06-29-2008, Load 07-20-2008
Sometimes we get impatient with children. They demand much attention and require a lot of our time. They know so little, keep making mistakes, and drain our finances. They are always getting dirty, can’t seem to stay out trouble, need to go to the bathroom, and want something to eat. We can list a long line of negatives when thinking about children. Yet, Jesus had something important to say about these little human beings.
Mark 10:13: “And they brought young children to him, that he should touch them: and his disciples rebuked those that brought them.
14: But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.
15: Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein.
16: And he took them up in his arms, put his hands upon them, and blessed them.”
Allow the little children to come to me. What a powerful statement! And the later statement was even more so: Anyone who shall not embrace the kingdom of God as would a little child shall not enter that kingdom! These are sobering words, and deserve close examination.
What does it mean to receive the kingdom of God as a little child? To understand that we need to examine the attitudes of the little children.
First, let me remind you how happy little children usually are. Unless they are being horribly abused, most children are happy almost all day long, every day. Keeping that in mind, what do the scriptures say about our happiness as Christians?
John 13:17: “14: If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another's feet.
15: For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.
16: Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him.
17: If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.”
Jesus said that if we humble ourselves, and serve one another in the most menial fashion, we can be happy. Who would have thought it? The world says that the man who is a financial success, and is master of others, is the man who can be happy. Yet, we often see children happily assisting one another, showing concern for each other and trying to meet their companions’ needs. We would be happy if we would follow this example.
Romans 14:22: “Hast thou faith? have it to thyself before God. Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth.”
Ever notice the happy innocence of children? They go about their childish business with full confidence that what they are doing is the right thing. They sleep well at night. Surely, we can happily go about our lives if we live according to what we know is right.
James 5:11: “Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.”
How about the many times that we have seen children work tirelessly to accomplish a task that seems important to them? They will usually keep at it until they get it done to their satisfaction. Happy are we if we will endure.
1 Peter 3:14: “But and if ye suffer for righteousness' sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled;”
1 Peter 4:14: “If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified.”
Again, notice how children bounce back from trouble. After being corrected, or shall we even dare say, punished, children soon return to their happy mode. How wonderful it would be if we could also endure our persecution and punishments, and remain happy! My brothers and sisters often say that we “ought to be” the happiest people on earth, to which I reply, “Stop saying ‘out to be’ and actually be the happiest people on earth!
Not only are they happy, but children are also full of joy.
Romans 14:17: “For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.”
Romans 15:13: “Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.”
Just being a Christian is enough reason to have hearts full of joy. That God saw fit to send us His beloved, obedient Son to share His Father’s word with us is wonderful enough, but that He died to take away our sins and give us eternal life is joy beyond measure! Our faith gives us immeasurable joy.
2 Corinthians 8:1: “Moreover, brethren, we do you to wit of the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia;
2: How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality.
3: For to their power, I bear record, yea, and beyond their power they were willing of themselves;
4: Praying us with much intreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints.
5: And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God.”
Another thing that we often see in children is their joy in sharing. Yes, I know that there are some untaught and untrained children who learn to be selfish. We have all seen that. However, we have all also seen children sharing their toys, their sandwiches or cookies, and other things. Paul instructs us that there is great joy in sharing with others. God gives us all good things to enjoy, but our joy is greatest when those things are shared.
Philippians 2:1: “If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies,
2: Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.
3: Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.
4: Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.”
In the midst of our joy of sharing, we begin to understand charity. Charity is love that is unearned, unmerited, and undeserved. We must learn the love that children display.
Luke 6:32: “For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them.”
Children tend to love other children almost as soon as they meet. In fact, they tend to be non-judgmental about their playmates. They seem happy just to be with them. It doesn’t matter if they come from wealthy or poor families. It doesn’t usually matter if they are dirty or clean, well-dressed or in rags. We should learn to be like the children in this.
James 2:1: “My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons.
2: For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment;
3: And ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool:
4: Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts?”
We must learn to treat everyone fairly, regardless of financial situation or station in life. The poor and the ragged is to be embraced equally with the rich and splendidly dressed.
Another aspect of children is their ability to forgive. Soon after some grievance occurs, children can be seen hugging and playing together again.
Matthew 6:14: “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:
15: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
Ephesians 4:32: “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.”
We recall that Jesus said that we must receive the kingdom of God as little children. We see that we must forgive in order to be forgiven. Let us forgive as do the little children.
Another characteristic of children is their ability to work together to accomplish something. I have seen children put their heads and hands together, working with great determination to do something that they wanted to do.
1 Corinthians 3:4: “For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal?
5: Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man?
6: I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.
7: So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.
8: Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour.
9: For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building.
10: According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.
11: For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.”
As Christians, we need to learn the teamwork that we so often see in children. We work together for the good of the local community of Christians. Teamwork is essential to the development of the church.
Jesus told us to receive the kingdom of God as little children. I take His words seriously—don’t you?