Today's Devotions

Showcase: Prayer

  • Best of EM Bounds on Prayer +

    This is a compilation of some of the writings by E.M. Bounds. I've read a fair amount of books on Read More
  • Prayer - Does it Make Any Difference, Philip Yancey +

    Contemporary classic that probes the meaning of prayer for 21st century believers, and provides extended, personal anecdotes from a wide Read More
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Don  CarsonGenesis 19;

Matthew 18; Nehemiah 8; Acts 18

IF A PERSON ISN'T CAREFUL, it is fairly easy to distort an analogy. The reason is obvious. When one thing is an analogy of another, inevitably there are points where the two things are parallel, and other points where they are quite different.

If they were parallel at every point, then their relationship would not be an analogical: the two would instead be identical. What makes an analogical relationship so fruitful and insightful lies precisely in the fact that the two things are not identical. But that is also what sometimes makes them a little tricky to understand.

 

This point is critical to the understanding of the analogy Jesus draws in Matthew 18:1-6. When his disciples begin to argue over who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven, Jesus calls a little child and insists that unless they "change and become like little children" they will "never enter the kingdom of heaven" (18:3). Indeed, "whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven" (18:4). To welcome a little child in Jesus' name is to welcome Jesus (18:5); to cause one of these little ones who believe in Jesus to sin is to commit so grievous an offense it would be better never to have been born (18:6).

It is important to notice what the analogy does not establish. There is no suggestion that children are innocent or sinless, no hint that their faith is intrinsically pure, no sentimental illusion that children have a better understanding of God than do adults. The primary point of the analogy is established by the context of the disciples' argument. While they fret over who is greatest in the kingdom, Jesus is at pains to draw attention to members of society whom no one would think great. Children are such dependent creatures. They are not strong, wise, or sophisticated. They are relatively transparent. Proud adults, then, must humble themselves so that they may approach God as do little children: simply, in unselfconscious dependence, without any hope of being the greatest in the kingdom.

Moreover, if such children trust Jesus — doubtless without much sophistication, but with a transparent simplicity — those who corrupt them and lead them astray are pathetically and profoundly evil.

Here, then, is an image of greatness in the kingdom that shatters our pretensions, abases our pride, shames our selfish aspirations. If we must not draw the wrong conclusions from this analogy, there are plenty of correct ones to think through and put into practice.

Those who aspire to ecclesiastical heights and great reputations need to reflect at length on these words: "Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven."

Reflections to Consider

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Publications

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Music

Audio & Video

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Favorites

  • Shut It Tight, T Bone Burnett +

    I find it hard sometimes to say the way that I feel I do the very things I hate to Read More
  • Home: a video clip of Going Home by Libera +

    What is home? Is it a house or something more? Is home where you grew up, where you live, or Read More
  • The Dynamics of the Spiritual Life +

    Our emotional lives and our spiritual lives have different dynamics. The ups and downs of our emotional life depend a Read More
  • Like Anyone Else: Solomon Burke +

    I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very Read More
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Hidden Blessings

  • The Idol of Personal Peace and Affluence +

    Francis Schaeffer discusses modern man’s humanistic thought, and its relationship to the only values that were held: personal peace and Read More
  • The Beginning of PCA: Francis Schaeffer +

    "A Step Forward" [The Presbyterian Journal, 6 March 1974, pages 7-8] Shortly after the formation of the Presbyterian Church in Read More
  • A Change in Our Society: Francis Schaeffer +

    A Christian Manifesto by Dr. Francis A. Schaeffer This address was delivered by the late Dr. Schaeffer in 1982 at Read More
  • The Universe and Two Chairs: Francis Schaeffer +

    In the course of this book we have focused attention on the way God looks at the culture of our Read More
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