CHILDREN ARE THE GREATEST AMONG US
by Dayle Allen Shockley
Not long ago, I held a friend’s newborn daughter in my arms. I had almost forgotten what a delightful thing it is to hold something that exquisite and pure. As I watched her tiny hands slapping the air, I realized all over again just what a wonder children are, and why the psalmist David called them a gift from the Lord.
Not everyone believes a child has worth. Sadly, children are frequently abused and mistreated by parents. A child’s opinion is often disregarded and thought unimportant. But those who aspire to such behavior and ideas couldn’t be more wrong.
One of my favorite passages of Scripture, and one that clearly showcases just how much value God places on children, is found in the eighteenth chapter of Matthew.
As Jesus spoke to a crowd of people, the disciples gathered around. Suddenly, one of them asked, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”
It was then that Jesus called a little child to his side. “Except you be converted, and become as little children,” He said, “you cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself as this little child, the same is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”
Perhaps such an answer shocked the folks standing around, but Jesus had more to say on the subject.
“And whoever receives one such little child in my name,” He said, “receiveth me. But whoever shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.”
What a powerful testimony to the value that God places on children. And what a sobering message to those who mistreat or disrespect them.
Why would God choose a little child as the perfect model for those who strive to enter into the kingdom of heaven? Here are some possible reasons:
A child trusts his parents to do what’s best for him.
A child believes all things are possible.
A child is not worried about tomorrow.
A child enjoys life and laughs a lot.
A child is not too proud to cry.
A child is quick to forgive.
A child loves easily.
Whenever I look at the photo here of my daughter from many years back, her innocence still tugs at my heart. Children are honest. Funny. Sincere. And sometimes they blow you away with their insights.
I recall the day my little daughter stormed into the house, horrified that the neighborhood boys had killed a bird. She demanded to know why people kill birds.
Some people eat birds, I told her, hoping the necessity of eating would rationalize the boys' naughty deed.
"Well, they shouldn't!" she said, righteous indignation splashed across her rosy cheeks. "Little birds were not meant to be food!"
"Well. Okay,” I said, trying to be agreeable. “Just what were little birds meant to do on this earth?"
She sighed, placed hands on hips and said, "Little birds were meant to sing to us every morning." The expression on her face said don’t you know anything?
Children, someone once said, are unstained jewels dropped from heaven. Indeed, they are. And they should be treated with the greatest of respect, and handled with the greatest of care.
Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. — Matthew 19:14