At one point in the ministry of Jesus, the twelve apostles began to argue about which among them would be preeminent in the kingdom of heaven. Jesus at once recognized a perfect teaching moment and began to school the apostles in the basics of humility.
“He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:2-3 (NIV)
Like a child, utter dependence on our Father is needed to enter the kingdom of heaven. This childlike reliance on God is step one. The second step is related. A child does not exert his own will over his father. An obedient child complies completely with his father’s will. Those who will be great in the kingdom of heaven are those who have totally given themselves over to the Lord.
“Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:4 (NIV)
This process of developing a childlike dependence on God establishes a connection to God that is unequaled. Jesus tells the apostles that such a childlike dependence makes one an equal with Him.
“And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.” Matthew 18:5 (NIV)
Jesus was the ultimate example of this totally subservient relationship with God. Obeying the will of His Father, Jesus went to the cross on our behalf as payment for our sins. Jesus obediently served His Father while humbly serving all of us by paying the price for our transgressions. The book of Mark records the final summation of this teaching:
“Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.” Mark 9:35 (NIV)
Of course, we will never attain the awesome servant spirit of Jesus, but our mission is to spend every moment of every day making a sincere attempt. Our life does not belong to us – it belongs to God. His will above our own should be our focus. How we approach every decision we make reflects our connection to this commitment to serve God by serving others. How we respond to the needs of others is a clear indication of our total dependency on God. If we truly trust God like a child, we will follow the path He places before us without hesitation.
Answer each question as though you were speaking privately to Jesus. Don’t just answer yes or no, explain your answer completely to yourself and to the Lord.
Do you have a childlike reliance on God?
Have you totally given yourself over to the Lord?
Are you serving God by serving others?
Do you put God first, others second, and yourself last?
Are you following the nudging of the Holy Spirit without hesitation?
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