Biblical Childlikeness

On Having a Childlike Heart

I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven. So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.

Matt. 18:3-4 ESV

Biblical childlikeness is an attitude of neediness, dependence, and receptiveness to God. Childlikeness is a simple trust in the tender care of our heavenly Father. A childlike spirit is not to be confused with childishness: childishness is a refusal to take responsibility and an all-consuming focus on oneself. Childlikeness is not passivity, but trusts that God will work in and through us to serve others.

A child and a cynic walk through the shadow of death differently. A cynic focuses on the darkness and confusion. A person with childlike heart dwells on God’s goodness and faithfulness. A childlike heart know that difficulties await when living in a fallen world; they are confident that God’s grace is bigger and more powerful than Satan’s evil schemes.

Jesus celebrates the humility that comes from the child’s weakness, defenselessness, and vulnerability. The child can really do nothing for himself or herself and will die if left alone. It is this kind of humility that Jesus uses as a visual aid.

Michael J. Wilkins quoted in Grant R. Osbourne, Matthew: Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, Clinton E. Arnold, ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2010), 669.


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