By John Blase
Just like you’ll probably never forget the face of your first girlfriend, the translation you used when you first began to memorize Scripture stays with you for a long, long time. In my case, this means I’ve heard a lot of Scripture read from the King James Version. One of the first verses I memorized is from the Gospel of Matthew. In it, “Jesus says, ‘Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven’” (Matthew 19:14).
As a boy I remember hearing that passage in Sunday School and thinking the word suffer could mean only one thing: “to hurt.” Maybe someone tried to clarify this for me, but I cannot recall a single grown-up telling us that, in this case, the word meant “to allow, or permit.”
So back then, in my mind’s eye, I envisioned Jesus cutting through the crowd of disciples and onlookers, toward these little suffering children, who were as innocent as dew but happened to be born in a time when the small and weak had no voice at all. I imagined Jesus looked into their suffering faces, possibly winking, and saying, “C’mere.” And so they did.
I’m willing to bet there were some suffering children who ran unbridled into His arms at full speed. I’m also willing to bet there were some sufferers who held back, timid, uncertain of the man before them and His designs. But the story indicates that they all eventually came to Jesus. There must have been something about Jesus that wooed them, something that drew them to Him.
Hospitality toward children is essential for the believer. Jesus said His kingdom belongs to “such as these” (Matthew 19:14). Unfortunately, our society can, at times, still struggle with impatience and indifference toward the small, vulnerable, and weak. In this way, children are still suffering, still defenseless.
Making straight the way for children to see and experience the love and blessing of Christ is important, grown-up work. In other words, it’s hard. Why? Well, that’s an easy answer. It’s hard because it often involves upsetting us adults and our adult plans. Regardless of your preferred Bible translation, this remains clear: If you don’t have room for the suffering children, then you don’t have room for the suffering Savior. So let them come. Amen.
Written by John Blase
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8 thoughts on "Making Room for Children"
Lord God, I pray that you humble me and show me how to raise up my children to know you. Help me to avoid provoking them to anger (to distraction from you). Lead me that my wife and I may point them to you!
The Scripture passages couldn’t be more clear: we are to look to children to teach us how to have a strong faith. Not only that, but we are to accept them and love them as if they are just as important as adults. Even going a step further, to be great in the Kingdom of God, we are to become like children. We are to be willing, obedient and joyful. Father, help me to have a childlike faith.
Good words in this devotional. I struggle sometimes with making time to meet the needs of the many kids in our area who have zero home life, no parents that are truly “there” for them to steward them. And some who literally have no parents and are in the many boys and girls homes around. My schedule gets in the way more often than not. And that’s me being selfish with time that is GIVEN to me by the grace of God…..not time that I’ve somehow earned.
I pray that God would crumble my will in those areas and let me be more of a vessel to those kids. That I would care less about spending my personal time and more about spending some of it on helping and guiding them. The times that I have spent serving at the boys homes have been so rewarding in the past.
This application seems so simple – and yet, is it really? My job is such that I only work with adults specifically (I’m an RN). In looking at the application of trying to work with and attend to children (especially those who are suffering), the outlook seems rather bleak when I look at the lack of opportunity I have to come into contact with “the least of these”. Save one.
Most churches have a children’s ministry of some sort and mine is no exception. I adore children, but for some reason or another have never felt called to work in and with the children’s ministry. Perhaps it was me pushing the thought out of my mind, I’m not sure.
At previous churches, I have spent time as a Bible study leader for jr high and some high school, but haven’t picked it back up for one reason or another. I’m going to go to the Lord in prayer about this and see what He would have me do.
There is something awesome about the picture of Jesus playing with kids. It reminds me of pictures I’ve seen of presidents playing with kids in the Oval Office. There’s something so humanizing and joy provoking about the scene. No matter what sort of stress or burden they were facing, play with a kid and it seemed like things were going to be ok. It makes me wonder if Jesus has so many commands about hospitality to children for their sake or for our sake too. It really does help me to get out of my own head when I’m cuddled up with my precious little niece. Regardless of the motives or the reasons I love the fact that I follow a King who took time to play with children and commands us to do the same.
DY 10: I’ve heard it a lot, that we should be like children coming to the lord. If you look at a holds heart, it’s innocent, yet to be touched and hurt by the world. We should desire God, like we have nothing here holding us back. The girls, the game, the stuff that distracts us. Gave a heart like the child and we can grow even closer to God.
We were all made in his image, everyone one of us. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that when we become hostile towards others outside of our “group”. When I was growing up, I was a quiet kid and I got picked on a ton. It was hard for me to make friends and it was even harder to express how I was feeling to my parents because it seemed like they had “better” things to deal with. I never had anyone tell that Jesus loved me growing up but man, my life would of been different if someone did. Lord, remind me that children are heirs to your kingdom also. Right now, there’s a ton of children that don’t know about you and we need to show them who you are.
The writer’s final statement, that we don’t have room for Jesus if we don’t have room for children, really struck a chord with me. So often, I know I find myself slightly annoyed or rattled by the pure joy children exude in their play and interaction with others, that I forget it’s my job to make a way to Jesus for them.
I don’t have children myself, but it’s so hard to think that I worry more about keeping them under control than building them up as God has built me up in Christ.
My plans cannot come before God’s plan for me to prepare the way for children, just as Jesus did for us. We must be able to see the situation as Christ would, to care and be hospitable for the children suffering in the world. It’s our mission to love and care for them.
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