Bible Reading Blog

Bible Reading Blog

“Become Like Children”

Categories: Congregational Bible Reading

BIBLE READING: Mark 10

I saw a video of a little boy whose parents gave him a banana for his birthday. It was meant to be a joke, but the little boy was thrilled. As he unwrapped the gift he exclaimed, “It’s a banana!” and he proceeded to hug it and eat it with the biggest smile on his face. As I watched this video, it occurred to me how simple children are. Most kids won’t reject a gift from someone but instead receive it with enthusiasm, expectation, and wonder.

We often see children for their immaturity, but there are positive aspects of their nature which Jesus commends to everyone. Children are innately dependent on others, and under normal circumstances they develop an expectation that whatever they are given is for their benefit. They may not fully appreciate the disparity between parent and child, but they trust what the parent does it for their good.

In Mark 10, Jesus offers a contrast between the attitude of the Pharisees and that of a child. Following an antagonistic exchange regarding matters of the law (Mark 10.2), Jesus admonishes his followers, “whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it” (Mark 10.15). Consider the difference between how children receive gifts and how the Pharisees received the law from God. They had taken something given to them for their good and twisted it into something negative and limiting.

Why is that? I believe humans tend to gravitate towards pretense as we grow in understanding. We like to feel competent and naturally this develops a self-sufficient mentality which can create barriers to truth and reality. The Pharisees had put up walls in their minds which made it difficult to see the truth regarding Jesus and his kingdom.

While Jesus never condemns the Pharisees for their devotion to the law, he does condemn their negative attitude. As we grow in our faith, we must be mindful of our attitude when receiving the word of God. The things given by God are for our good but can be perceived as onerous and restrictive if received with a hard heart. And so, we must remember that all things given by God have a purpose (Romans 8.28) and therefore have a silver lining. When Jesus tells us to put things out of our lives (Ephesians 4), it is for our good. It will be difficult at times as we are refined in our thinking, but it will produce in us a better version of ourselves.

Ultimately God desires that we trust him and not ourselves. This does not mean that we do not mature in our thinking (1 Corinthians 14.20; Hebrews 6.1-3), but rather that we cultivate a child-like gratitude and dependence on our Father. When we see him for who he truly is (Hebrews 11.6), we will more gratefully receive his discipline and his teaching as a gift for our good.

“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves and chastises every son whom he receives.” (Hebrews 12.5-6)

 

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