Be as Little Children

But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. (Luke 18:16-17)

Matthew 18:1 At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? 18:2 And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them,

18:3 And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. 18:4 Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

What does Jesus mean when He says that we must be converted and become as little children? This is a very important question for He follows up by saying that unless we become these things we cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven (God’s Kingdom).

We know that little children are not truly converted for they are not mature enough to know the spiritual things of God. Infants and very small children have not yet learned and do not know the difference between right and wrong; in addition they have not had the chance to develop character and internalize the divine nature of God. 

Yet, Jesus is saying that we will not enter the Kingdom of God unless we 1. become converted and 2. become like a little child.

Jesus says that we must become converted (as only mature adults can be) but then we must be like little children in certain ways (have certain attributes that they have) that show that we are converted. These two things (being converted and having those childlike attributes) are necessary if we are to qualify to be a part of the resurrection of the just and then inherit the Kingdom.

What does it mean to become converted? The Greek word for converted in this verse is strephó  (Strong’s # 4762) and means: to turn, i.e. to change. Definition: I turn, am converted, change, change my direction. (Strong’s Concordance)

For a person to become converted, he or she must change his or her direction from the way of sin to the way of obedience to God. The first thing that has to happen to begin the change is belief in the Gospel message of Jesus Christ of the way to eternal salvation and then comes genuine sincere repentance. This is what Jesus proclaimed from the start when He began His ministry.

Mark 1:15 And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.

To become converted is to believe the Gospel, repent and apply Christ’s atoning sacrifice to all of our sins and we become baptized and ask to receive God’s Holy Spirit: we then commit to live a life of obedience to all of God’s commandments, statutes, ordinances, and to the whole word of God. There are many Scriptures that tell us that we must repent of our wickedness and turn to God with all of our hearts and if we do, He will forgive us and make it possible for us to obey His righteous commandments.

Isaiah 55:7 Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.

Ephesians 4:22 That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts;

Conversion from the carnal man to a Spirit led child of God begins with God’s calling and then we must be humble enough to accept that calling and sincerely repent of our past sins.

Jesus was using this example from his time which may be hard for some in today’s western culture to understand but Jesus lived in a society quite different from today, where today even the smallest children can be stubborn, proud  and selfish.

Jesus was pointing out that in his day little children knew how small they were in a society of adults.  They were humble, knowing how much they depend on their parents, they trusted their parents to care for them and to teach them, and they were eager to learn soaking up knowledge like sponges.  Little children adored their father as the leader of the family and were quick to set aside mistakes and embrace new knowledge.

To be converted to godliness, adult’s must become like little children in the sense of becoming humble before God their Father, being quick to acknowledge errors and sins and quick to repent and rise up to remove that sin and try again.  We must be as humble, submissive to God and teachable as little children eagerly desiring [hungering and thirsting (Mat 5) after knowledge of every Word of God]  to learn.  

True conversion not only involves changing our outward behavior but also changing [replacing] our inward human nature by internalizing the divine nature of God our Father and His Son Jesus Christ through the help of God’s Holy Spirit within us.

2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

When we become converted we turn our lives around and begin to walk in God’s truth; and as we abide in Him, we grow in the nature of God and begin to grow in godliness producing spiritual fruit.

As we set our hearts and minds on the things of the Spirit of God; we lose interest in seeking after the things of this world. Converted called out ones desire to live the way Jesus lived when He was here on earth as a man. He was righteous and holy in everything that he thought, said, and did; He should be the one that we want to emulate if we are truly converted, not carnal men – no matter how physically successful they appear to be –  and their ways of this world.

1 John 1:6 If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: 1:7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.

1 John 2:6 He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.

If we have God’s Spirit in us we have the very nature and power of God the Father and Jesus Christ living in us, empowering us to live a life of faith that is committed to walking in the light of God’s truth.

Galatians 2:20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

Ephesians 1:13 In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,

If we have received God’s Holy Spirit we belong to God the Father and Jesus Christ and we have eternal life abiding in us through the power of that Spirit as long as we remain faithful to our baptismal commitment. “And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.” (Romans 8:10) 

Romans 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

8:2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.

8:3 For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:

8:4 That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

8:5 For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.

8:6 For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.

8:7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.

8:8 So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.

8:9 But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.

8:10 And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.

8:11 But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.

8:12 Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh.

8:13 For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.

8:14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.

The whole chapter (Romans 8) is about our relationship with God, how He lives in us and helps us through His Holy Spirit; and Paul speaks of the future glory that God is preparing for those who love and obey Him. Paul further tells us how we can become the very “sons of God” and that nothing can separate us from God’s love if we belong to Him and are living for Him. This whole chapter is so encouraging to those who believe.

Conversion is a process and after receiving God’s Spirit, we must continuously follow the lead of God’s Spirit. The conversion process transforms our entire way of living and we become new persons. This is one of the conditions that Jesus spoke of in Matthew 18 as necessary to enter His Kingdom.

The other condition is that we become as a little child. This instruction that we receive the kingdom of God as a little child is spoken of in the book of Mark as well.

Mark 10:13 And they brought young children to him, that he should touch them: and his disciples rebuked those that brought them. 10:14 But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. 10:15 Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein. 10:16 And he took them up in his arms, put his hands upon them, and blessed them.

What does it mean to be as a little child? It is not talking about becoming immature and behaving in childish ways. Paul is clear about putting away childish behavior and about NOT being like children when it comes to the understanding of spiritual principles.

1 Corinthians 13:11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.

1 Corinthians 14:20 Brethren, be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice be ye children, but in understanding be men.

Rather, Jesus is talking about the special attributes of a little child that we must emulate if we want to enter into His kingdom. A little child knows that he is helpless and must depend on his parents for everything. He trusts them to take care of his every need and is not anxious about how they are going to do so. A little child, especially an infant, has complete FAITH in his parents; and a person who is converted is to have complete FAITH in his heavenly Father to take care of all of his needs. Faith is foundational to a believer’s life and without it we cannot please God.

Hebrews 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

As we know, faith in God and in all that he is; is very important in a true believer’s life.

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

All believers have received the gift of faith from God, and faith is essential to our walk with Him. We must have faith to believe in God’s Word, that He keeps all of His promises, that God’s ways are the best ways, and that He has forgiven us of all our past sins if we have sincerely repented of them.

Ephesians 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

It is by faith (part of the armor of God ) that we are able to deter and put out all the flaming arrows of Satan that he launches against us.

Ephesians 6:16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.

It is our faith in God that He exists, being teachable and believing all that He says, and that He deeply loves us with an unshakable deep agape kind of love, that makes us like a little child of God the Father.

Matthew 18:1 At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? 18:2 And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them,

18:3 And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.

The context of Jesus telling His disciples that they must be converted and become like little children was in reply to their question “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”

He responded by first calling a little child to him, and set the child in the midst of the disciples. Then he rebuked the disciples by telling them that only those who become converted and become like little children will enter the Kingdom of God. He told them that they must be converted and went on to explain how they were to be like little children.  A little child is humble for he knows that he is lowly and he does not think of himself as knowing everything there is to know, but is HUMBLE and  TEACHABLE.

It is only those who are converted and have this attitude that will enter and excel in the Kingdom of God.

Matthew 18:4 Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

Jesus made reference to the little child and explained to His disciples that whoever takes the lowly position of this little one is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven and that  “And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me”.  

In Matthew 18:5 Jesus was referring not to embracing every child, but to accepting all of God the Father’s faithful children.

Matthew 18:5 And whoso shall receive one such little child [of God] in my name receiveth me.

Then Jesus gave them a stern warning that whoever offends one of God’s faithful humble “little ones” [God’s called out children] that believe in Him would face dire consequences.

Matthew 18:6 But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea. 18:7 Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!

The disciples seemed to be hung up on what constitutes greatness in the realm of God’s Kingdom. We see this question come up several times during their training period with Christ in those 3 1/2 years and the issue is greatly misunderstood in the leadership of today’s Ekklesia who struggle for the top seats as well.  But Jesus wanted to show them that God’s perspective of greatness is quite different from that of the world’s idea of what greatness is.

He taught that they needed to gain a whole new perspective on what constitutes leadership, that the way to being a great leader is take the lowest seat; to be a servant to those who need serving rather than to desire the top seats and positions.

Mark 9:35 And he sat down, and called the twelve, and saith unto them, If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all.

Luke 14:8 When thou art bidden of any man to a wedding, sit not down in the highest room; lest a more honourable man than thou be bidden of him; 14:9 And he that bade thee and him come and say to thee, Give this man place; and thou begin with shame to take the lowest room. 14:10 But when thou art bidden, go and sit down in the lowest room; that when he that bade thee cometh, he may say unto thee, Friend, go up higher: then shalt thou have worship in the presence of them that sit at meat with thee.

14:11 For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

Then Jesus gave another example of service

Luke 14:12 Then said he also to him that bade him, When thou makest a dinner or a supper, call not thy friends, nor thy brethren, neither thy kinsmen, nor thy rich neighbours; lest they also bid thee again, and a recompence be made thee.

14:13 But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind:

14:14 And thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just.

14:15 And when one of them that sat at meat with him heard these things, he said unto him, Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God. (Please also see Matthew 5:31-46)

Little children exemplify to us what it means to be meek and humble. And one of the ways we walk as Jesus walked is to be meek and humble as He was meek and humble.

Matthew 11:29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.

Jesus gives us the example of two men, one was meek like a child and the other one who thought pretty highly of himself.

Luke 18:10 Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. 18:11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. 18:12 I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. 18:13 And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. 17:14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

In the very next verse we are told that infants were brought to Jesus and He at this time also uses the illustration of little children showing what is required of all of His disciples if they are to enter the Kingdom of God.

Luke 18:15 And they brought unto him also infants, that he would touch them: but when his disciples saw it, they rebuked them. 18:16 But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. 18:17 Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein.

It is the ones who are meek and gentle, humble and teachable, obedient and faithful, like a little child; who shall inherit the earth [shall enter the Kingdom of God].

Matthew 5:5 Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.

Psalm 37:11 But the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.

The meek are teachable like small children are teachable; and when we are teachable, we are enthusiastic to learn about God and His ways and we are then able to grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord.

Psalm 25:9 The meek will he guide in judgment: and the meek will he teach his way.

It is the meek who will inherit the Kingdom; and yet we are living in a time when it is so hard to accept that we could be wrong about a lot of things that we have been taught in the past and that we as the body of Christ need to have a revival in returning to the true faith that was originally delivered unto God’s people through the prophets and the apostles.

Jude 3 Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.

We need to become as little children, realizing that we do not have all truth yet, that there is much that needs to be restored.

If we are child-like we will be teachable and thereby we will be willing to look into those things that God is trying to teach us (and correct) in these end times:

Most of the Ekklesia needs to return to the Bible and what the Bible has to say about how and when to keep the Holy Days and how to properly keep the Sabbath; what the Holy Days really symbolize and to start keeping the New Moons; and sincerely repent if we see that we have been wrong in these things.

And when we are challenged on these things; we really need to get into the Bible and diligently dig for the truth and what God has to say about how to obey Him and how to observe His Sabbath and Feast Days. And then like a little child we must believe what God has to say about these things.

Let us pray and ask God to anoint our eyes (and the whole Ekklesia’s eyes) to heal our eyesight that we can see what is true and what is false and to help us to become as little children when it comes to being teachable; just like when we were first called and coming out of the world’s pagan beliefs and religions.

It has been so indoctrinated into us that we were given the whole truth of God back in the past and that we do not need to keep learning and understanding, that we do not need to prove all things and then change when we see that we need to; which is why God says that the Laodiceans (who think they are spiritually rich and in need of nothing) would be the most prevalent in the end time. 

Thinking that we do not have to keep studying and learning is indicative that we are indeed Laodicean. 

Revelation 3:14 And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; 3:15 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. 3:16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. 3:17 Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:

3:18 I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.

3:19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.

3:20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.

3:21 To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.

3:22 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

A very young child has not yet learned the ways of ambition, pride, and haughtiness and is therefore a good example for us. Little children are typically humble and teachable and are not prone to being self-important or arrogant; especially in Jesus day on the earth.

Humility is a godly virtue and if we humble ourselves before God, we can just trust that He will put us where He wants us, as the apostle James says,

James 4:10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.
To become converted, one must come to the point of seeing that our past ways and past beliefs are wrong when they have been proven to be; to believe the things that God tells us in His Word and to be willing to change when we see a need to.

I know many of us are coming out of the false beliefs and errors that we have been taught for many, many years; and then there may be others who may be reading who are just now coming to the place of understanding, for instance that we have been keeping the Festivals and Holy Days on the wrong dates and not on the dates appointed by God through His Word.


We do believe that it is just as important to keep God’s Festivals on the dates, as it is to keep God’s weekly Sabbath on the day that god commanded!

The dates to keep these things are just as much a part  of God’s law as the keeping of the Sabbaths and Festivals themselves.  If you would keep God’s Festivals on dates other than the dates that God has commanded; why not keep God’s seventh day [Friday sunset to Saturday sunset] Sabbath on some other day.

Did not Malachi tell us to “REMEMBER” the law of Moses and all the statues and ordinances [judgments] and to keep them?

These things pertain to us in these end time days just as they did for all those who have lived down through history, because it seems that we have forgotten to keep God’s New Moons and His Festivals in the way and on the days that God has decreed.

Malachi 4:4 Remember ye the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments.

We as the body of Christ need to be obeying God, not men who tell us what to believe.

In the Kingdom of God we will be teachers who will teach those under our care the right ways of God. How will we be able to teach others what we were unwilling to learn and to practice when we had the chance to learn of them and keep them in our own physical lifetimes?

Only those who have been diligent to believe God and then obey what He says – living by every Word of God – will be allowed to enter God’s Kingdom and in turn teach others these things.

Ezekiel 44:23 And they shall teach my people the difference between the holy and profane, and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean.

Isaiah 66:23 And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the Lord.

Yes, it does make a difference whether we are keeping what God tells us to keep Holy; and we are to come out from those who teach us that it is just not important if we keep God’s commandments as He says to keep them or do whatever we want.

We are always to believe and obey God, over and above what men teach if they teach contrary to His ways.

2 Corinthians 6:14 Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?

6:15 And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?

6:16 And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 6:17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you. 18 And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.

I repeat the question I posed earlier “What does Jesus mean when He says that we must be converted and become as little children? This is a very important question for He says that unless we do these things, we cannot enter the kingdom of heaven (God’s Kingdom).”

Paul admonishes the brethren to keep the Feasts and he uses the analogy of leaven (leaven symbolizes sin) of malice and wickedness. To keep the Feasts of the Lord on the wrong days is sin and therefore is wickedness.

Let us keep the Feast’s of God with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth, on God’s true biblically commanded dates that He has established; and not what mere men decide contrary to the Word of God.  Download our full length “The Biblical Sabbath and Calendar” book or free. 

1 Corinthians 5:8 Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

Revelation 18:4 And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.

Let us become like little children in faith, meekness and a sincere desire to please God our Father; and when we see that we have come to believe errors in the past let us quickly repent and change.  That is what being converted and being child-like is all about.

Matthew 18:4 Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.


James Malm and Constance Belanger

Note-  Constance submitted the original rough draft of this article in 2016, which I then completed for posting.  


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