“Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” (Matthew 18:1). This was a question the disciples asked Jesus. He responded by placing a little child in the midst of them. As He often did, He used their question to create a teachable moment.
“Except you be converted, and become as little children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven,” Jesus said (v. 3). This did not answer the disciples’ question. But it was relevant to the discussion. Before one can be greatest in the Kingdom, he must first get into the Kingdom. And Jesus says the standard for entering heaven is to become as a little child. How ironic it is that we spend the days of our youth looking forward to becoming an adult. Then to enter heaven, we must become as little children again. In effect, we must have a child-like faith in and reliance upon our heavenly Father.
Jesus answered the disciples’ question: “Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (v. 4). This Kingdom approach to greatness goes against the grain of our society. Those who are great in this world are bigger than life. They tend to have money, power, and great accomplishments. I am sure Jesus’ response was not the answer the disciples expected. Perhaps one or more of them thought they were candidates for being the greatest in the Kingdom. After all, they were the Lord’s inner circle. They had left everything to follow Him. But again, the little child in the midst of them reflected heaven’s standard for greatness.
Finally, Jesus said, “It is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish” (verse 14). It should be no surprise to us that little children are precious in the eyes of God. He wants them all to go to heaven. They reflect the standard for greatness in the Kingdom of heaven.
So what can we take away from this teachable moment? In the eyes of God, it’s not so much what we do, but how we do what we do. I am saying that in the Kingdom, an elderly usher can be greater than a charismatic church pastor of a megachurch. Greatness in the eyes of God does not come through notoriety and accomplishments alone. Rather, through faithfully serving the Lord in the spirit of child-like humility.
Copyright © 2017 by Frank King. All rights reserved.