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Like a child

Like a child

Something to read

At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, ‘Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’ He called a child, whom he put among them, and said, ‘Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.

- Matthew 18:1-5.

Something to think about

Parents and those who look after small children might give a wry smile at Jesus’ description in these verses. Over this holiday period, you may have witnessed young relatives bouncing off the walls with excess excitement, plus new toys and a slacker routine: not necessarily a recipe for quiet humility!

Seasonal variations aside though, Jesus is perhaps pointing to the contrast between the selfish ambition and stubborn pride that besets most of us in some degree as we age, and the curiosity, openness and acceptance that children more naturally inhabit. For instance, changing one’s mind is often a painful process for grown-ups, as our ideas become fixed and our identities built around them. Children are often able to adapt, grow, and change their minds when offered new information or in the light of another person’s feelings.

Humility requires us to hold most things lightly, from our money and possessions to our attitudes and opinions. When talking about contentious issues with those who disagree, the phrase ‘I could be wrong’ can turn entrenchment and hostility into more humble, constructive dialogue.

Something to do

Think of an issue you are passionate about, on which others might disagree with you. How could you encourage and model humility in the dialogue?

Something to pray

Jesus, you were born as a baby and grew as a child, dependent on those who cared for you. Help me to share your humility, even as I stand for truth and justice. Teach me to stay open, honest and curious, loving even my neighbour who disagrees with me. Amen.

Today’s contributor is Rev Claire Jones