Jesus called a little child to him one day and said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3). But the Apostle Paul wrote, “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me” (1 Corinthians 13:11).
I was reading Philip Yancey’s book, Reaching for the Invisible God, and was struck by his thoughts on child-like versus childish faith. He writes, “Somehow we must learn to distinguish between appropriate child-like behavior, a prerequisite for the kingdom of heaven, and inappropriate childish behavior, a mark of stunted growth” (page 214).
David gives us some insight into this in Psalm 131. He says, “I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me. But I have calmed and quieted myself, I am like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child I am content” (Psalm 131:1-2).
A child-like faith is one that does not complicate issues, one that takes God at his word, even when failing to comprehend it. A child-like faith is unconcerned with all the details that are God’s responsibility, and rests in the assurance that the Heavenly Father has promised to supply all our needs.
For those of us who have raised children, we can easily distinguish child-like behavior from childish behavior. When our children are doing child-like things, we find them endearing and lovable. Those are the things we put in the baby book and about which we tell Grandma and Grandpa. Child-like behavior is a beautiful part of the maturing process.
Childish behavior, on the other hand, is not so attractive. Those are the traits and characteristics we dutifully try to eliminate through teaching and correction.
We want to develop child-like faith and eliminate childish faith. Our Lord is looking for grown-up people with child-like faith. Does that describe you?