At that time, the disciples came to Jesus, saying “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:1-3
Both Mark and Luke tell us that the disciples’ question above preceded an argument. They just finished discussing which one of them was the greatest. That revelation is delightfully transparent of them. Because, when is the last time you had an argument with another believer over who was more significant to the kingdom? Have you ever even brought it up?
We’re much more subtle than that. I permit myself to think things I would never say out loud. I can catch myself thinking things like, I am a better Christian because I am not like that person. My motives are purer than his. I know the correct meaning of this passage, and that person does not. In short, I am the greatest in the kingdom, or at least, right behind Charles Spurgeon and John Piper. So I think.
Pride runs so deep and is so all-encompassing that it poisons everything — I’m even proud of my humility.
Jesus’ instruction is simple: Turn, he says — turn your back on this way of thinking. The One who is greatest in the kingdom of heaven is the One who built heaven and created its contents. There is no other greatest, or least, for that matter. When we’re there, it will be because of grace, with nothing to prove.
And then: Become like children. Not in the sense of a lack of training, wisdom or understanding, but as those who are utterly dependent on their Father for everything, and recognize this in the deepest possible sense. All a little child can do apart from his parents is to be selfish and reckless. He needs direction and discipline and grace upon grace just to survive from one day to the next. This is our position before God — so turning and becoming like children is a matter of recognizing and acknowledging the truth.
DO THIS TODAY: Recognize the greatness of God in prayer.