“You have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children” (Matt. 11:25 ESV).
Elementary school is where it all begins—where the rubber meets the road, so to speak. Nothing you really think you know matters until you get to school and learn what the “real world” is all about.
I remember my first day of first grade. Barbara Roberts and I were sitting next to each other. For some long-forgotten reason I decided to push her. “Miss” Janie (actually Mrs. Janie) saw my indiscretion and promptly told me, “We don’t push people here.” I learned my lesson and life in first grade went on. Ready for day two.
If only the rest of life were that simple. If I always learned my lesson the first time around, I’d be much better off. Often, however, I have to be taught the same principle over and over before it finally sinks in. Without trying too hard, I can think of several very good examples of where this has happened in my life.
Stuck in a spiritual rut
Becoming a Christian is very similar to our school years. As new Christians we all start out as little children, only able to comprehend the most basic truths about God—that He created us, then provided salvation from our sin by becoming a man in Christ Jesus. It is only through study and the accumulation of many of life’s lessons that we grow in God and start to become what He wants us to be.
The problem is that many us never get past first or second grade in our spiritual lives. I know I’ve spent many years repeating the same spiritual grades over and over. By now I should probably be many years ahead—I think in a lot of ways I’m still stuck in elementary school, however.
Paul talks about this very problem in his letter to the church at Corinth. He writes, “But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready” (1 Cor. 3:1-2 ESV).
Childlike faith is the answer
God obviously wants us to grow in Christ. I think the key to this growth is to come humbly to Him just as a child would.
When His disciples were arguing over who would be the greatest in Heaven, Jesus used a nearby child as an example: “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matt 18:3-4 ESV).
The innocence and fresh outlook of children is why the opening verse of this article rings true. God reveals His truths to those who are humble enough to set aside what they think they know and become like little children who are just beginning their quest for knowledge.
When you’re six or seven years old, you’re wide open to instruction. You don’t yet have the weight of a lifetime of worldly experiences jading your outlook on life. Children trust their parents and teachers because God made them that way out of necessity. As children, we could not survive if we didn’t have others to protect and instruct us.
Just call me Abba (“Daddy”)
Our spiritual lives are no different. If we don’t begin our Christian walk humbly as little children, it is impossible for us to grow into the kind of mature Christian God wants us to be. We can’t start at the top. It doesn’t work in our earthly lives, whether at school or at work, and it doesn’t work in our spiritual lives.
As Peter tells us, “Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation—if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good” (1 Peter 2:2-3 ESV).
We must continue our journey—seeking God’s truth daily. Then one glorious day we’ll graduate with honors and walk not across a stage to receive a diploma, but on streets of gold hand in hand with Jesus our Savior.