One night I stayed up late reading, leaning comfortably against the couch armrest under the glow of a floor lamp. I was engrossed in a tense story about a kidnapping. I was finally getting to the good part that told how the victim safely escaped when my husband came downstairs to check on me.
“Are you still up?” he asked, his voice registering low because he was tired. I wasn’t expecting a man’s deep voice calling me from the darkness. It startled me like the surprise scene in a scary movie. Instinctively I threw the book up as my arms and legs fluttered back and forth like a beetle landing on its back frantically trying to right itself!
“You scared the crap out of me!” I yelped. He didn’t mean to frighten me but my reaction was over-the-top funny.
“You must have jumped a foot off the couch!” He quipped as he came towards me.
“I just finished the creepy part of this book and that was still in my mind,” I said in my defense. He started laughing so much about my reaction that he laid down on the living room floor, rolling with laughter until he cried. I had never seen him laugh so hard!
I feigned being upset with him, although I wasn’t, because that gave my prankster husband the added drama he craved. Watching him roll around helplessly laughing as he recounted the scene made me smile. Here was my 70 year-old hubby on the floor in his pajamas losing it like someone was tickling him! He was like a little kid finding humor at my expense, so I let him have his moment.
That same kind of innocent behavior was what Jesus referred to when He brought a nearby child to Himself to give the disciples a lesson on humility. The account in the Gospel of Mark notes that the disciples had been arguing among themselves about which one of them would be the greatest in the coming kingdom. The Gospel of Matthew picks up from their question to Jesus.
“At that time the disciples came to Jesus saying, ‘Who then is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’ And He called a child to Himself and set him before them, and said, ‘Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.’” (Matthew 18: 1-4)
The question for us now is, “How do you become like a child when you are an adult? What does God expect from us as grown-ups?” Let’s first address the disciples’ attitude of high-mindedness and vision of self-importance. The Book of Romans explains what Jesus was getting at. “Be of the same mind towards one another; do not be haughty in mind…Do not be wise in your own estimation.” (Romans 12:16) The first step towards humility is to lose the picture of yourself as being better than others.
God expects us to re-orient ourselves by reversing our delusions of self-grandeur. We must humble ourselves in our own estimation of self-importance and recalibrate our view of others. Have respect for other people rather than contempt. Filter your impulses before you act upon them by pulling back from causing harm.
Jesus said to be innocent like a child who has never had malicious thoughts. A child has love and trust in his heart naturally. Innocence is pure, untainted and guileless. God can show us how to be pure in heart if we ask Him to. “Blessed are the pure in heart for they will see God.” (Matthew 5:8) Humility is the beginning of greatness attainable by all. Love and trust God, and love others by wanting the best for them.
Learn to find simple, uncomplicated pleasures in life. Enjoy having fun, clowning around and making others laugh. Even more, teach yourself to lighten up, be silly, let go and have a good belly laugh on the floor in your pajamas whenever you can because childlikeness is Christlikeness.