Jesus wasn't just using children to make cute, pint-sized analogies when he said we're supposed to be like them (Mat 18:3-4): He meant it seriously and literally, and it behooves us to look to children's hearts as examples for how our own should be. Here's one such account, abridged, from Matt Grant at Mars Hill's Shoreline campus, north of Seattle.
Last Sunday, I led our 3-4 year olds in song at the 9 am service. During music time, we talk about ways we can worship Jesus besides singing. The song leader highlights that being generous with our money is a great way to worship Jesus. The kids are then called to come up and cheerfully give away the money they brought, if any. (Currently, their money is being used to help start churches all around the world through the Acts 29
But the time of giving can quickly turn into "Sinfest 2010"
with the kids exhibiting a me-first, "I’ll take you on" mentality. They argue over who gets to put money in the offering tray first, or who gets the coins that were accidentally dropped on the ground. This time, however, was different.
One little girl must have noticed her friend didn’t have any money to give. So she ripped her dollar bill in half to share with her friend.
It made me laugh while dumping a heavy load of joy on my heart. What could have easily been a moralistic, vacuous act of giving became a genuine, Spirit-led act of giving
and a real reflection of Jesus and this little girl’s heart. This little girl cared less about herself and "her money" and more about her friend and honoring Jesus.
What an awesome display of the gospel.
Her humility, selflessness, and generosity reminds me of what Jesus did for us, highlighted in Philippians 2:5-8
. Jesus gave something of much higher value to us—His life. His body was torn apart so that our relationship with God could be mended. Jesus gave so that we could truly give. He counted His status as Creator God and life as nothing, and our lives and status as created beings as of great worth. Jesus served. Jesus loved. Jesus gave from the heart.
This isn’t just a "cute story.
" It’s the gospel being portrayed and lived out in a young child’s life. It’s joy being brought to adults as they see the gospel shine clearly through a humble child. It’s evidence that God can and does use children for his glory. It’s a beautiful display of God’s grace, and I’m honored to have witnessed it and to be taught by Christ through it.
Matt is a deacon at the Shoreline campus and director of the children's ministry there.
For more on why and how we celebrate children biblically today (and how this differs vastly from views on children in ancient times) check out this old-school sermon from Pastor Mark while preaching out of Proverbs 2002.