Seven Attributes of a Child-Like Attitude

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Christ says, in Matt. 18, "...Unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven." There is something about a little child we must become like. what are the attributes of a child-like attitude that you and I should be emulating? What should we learn from them?



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Let me get into the sermon here today. I think we’re always moved when we see the blessing of little children. It’s a very moving, very inspiring ceremony. God chooses these little children to teach us a lesson, and I’m always amazed at watching them and reflecting from year to year on the lessons that you can learn. We are constantly reminded how we ought to be, how we ought to live, how we ought to react; yet, in our society today many people fail to learn the lesson because of the horrible child-rearing practices, sometimes the undisciplined children. We’ve all seen young people in Toys "R" Us throw a tantrum. I can remember very vividly that occurring where a child wanted a toy. The parent said no, and the child lay down and just threw a fit until the parents recapitulated and gave him what he wanted. We all understand that there could be more training and discipline of young people, especially in society. And yet, when Jesus Christ picked up those young children, they didn’t bite Him. They didn’t kick Him. They didn’t lay down and scream. They were just there, and Christ pointed to them as an example.

What we want to take a look at today is, what are the attributes of a child-like attitude that you and I should be emulating? What should we learn from them? Let’s go to Matthew, chapter 18 . Mr. Pinelli referred to this particular scripture, and I’d sort of like to use this as a keynote scripture. Matthew 18, beginning in verse 1 , and let’s notice right off the bat what Christ said. He very clearly explains an attitude that you and I must have if we are going to be in the Kingdom of God. In verse 1 of chapter 18:

Matt:18:1-3 At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, "Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" Now, they were more concerned about position, climbing the ladder, going over horizontally, and, you know, this was their focus; and Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them... now, I’m sure that they were a little bewildered by this. You would have thought Christ might have picked out a few scribes, lawyers, Pharisees, and begun to teach something about power and position. But, no, He got a little child. And He said, "Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted"– and the word "converted" means "to change"–unless you change, "and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven."

There is something about little children that we’ve got to become like. Otherwise, forget the Kingdom. So if we want to be in the Kingdom, we have to become like them.

Verse 4 focuses on it. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

So you and I are to learn the lesson from little children of humility. Now, you might ask the question, in what way is the child humble? What way do they demonstrate humility? Well, a small child is not all worried about what others think of him. He’s not worried about who’s the greatest child. You can take two or three little children, put them in a room, and, yes, they might fight over a toy or something of that nature; but they’re not worried about whose hair is the best, if their fingernails are all fixed, or if they’ve got designer clothes on. You know, they don’t worry about that. They don’t worry about who has designer diapers, or if their parents got their diapers at Walmart. They just don’t care. It is not until we get older, as children and then grownups, that we begin to compare ourselves to others, that we begin to judge ourselves by others, and we begin sometimes to either feel inferior because others come out looking better than we do or we feel superior; and these are reasons why the Bible says we shouldn’t be comparing ourselves. You find that one of the attributes, and the major one that we want to focus on that will flow through everything that we talk about today, is an attitude of humility that young people can demonstrate. We can watch them and { see that } they’re not all vain. They’re not all cocky about themselves. They’re not sitting there judging, critical of others.

Let’s go over to Luke 18 and verse 9 . I want you to notice that Jesus Christ talks about the blessing of little children, but let’s take note of what occurred prior to His blessing little children. In verse 9, it says:

Luke:18:9-14 Also He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others. So here were people who were looking down on others, critical of them. It says, " Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself..." He sort of lifted himself up in all of his glory, and he said, " ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men---- especially like this sinner over here, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector.’" So he had the audacity to point out the tax collector. "‘I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’ And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."

So here Christ gives a parable about exalting the self. It’s so easy for an individual to begin to look at what he has done, his accomplishments, to begin to feel proud, begin to feel vain, cocky; and yet, here the tax collector knew that he was a sinner. Now, let’s go on, in verse 15 . It says:

Verses 15-17 — Then they also brought infants to Him that He might touch them; but when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them. But Jesus called them to Him and said, "Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God. Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it."

So, again, we find the principle here is that you cannot lift yourself up, exalt yourself; but you have to be as a little child. The attitude that God is looking for is simply this, that we realize that God has called us, that He has put us in His Church, that He lives in us. We’re not righteous or good on our own. There’s nothing that we have that does not come { to us } unless it comes from God. We need Him. It’s not our righteousness. It’s not our goodness. It’s His righteousness and His goodness in us. And so, an attitude of humility is one of the more important lessons that we are to learn from children. As we watch children–and this is the blessing of having your own children and having grandchildren and just being around young people, to see them grow up, to see attitudes, to see some of the things that they do–we should be learning from them.

Now, let’s go back to Proverbs, chapter 10, and verse 1 , and let’s look at another attribute. Proverbs, chapter 10, and verse 1. It says:

Prov:10:1 The Proverbs of Solomon: A wise son makes a glad father, but a foolish son is the grief of his mother.

A wise son, you will find, is one who makes a glad father, glad mother. Have you ever noticed how many times young people as they are growing up will do anything that they can to please their parents, to try to please them, to help them? Now, I’m going to cite certain examples today. Most of these come from my own children; and, I guess, you know, growing up with them, I remember their examples better than others. But I can remember our children, when they were two or three years old, going out, picking a flower. Sometimes it would be a weed. Didn’t matter. And they would bring it in to their mother, and they would grin real big, and they’d give her this weed. And she would accept it, ball up, almost cry, and say, "Thank you," you know, "I really appreciate your doing this." It wasn’t whether it was a flower or a weed, a dandelion, or whatever it might have been. It was the fact that they thought of her, went to the trouble to go out and find something to give to their mother. In fact, I’ve had sons put a nick in a piece of wood–I don’t know where they found the knife–just put a little nick in it and bring it in. "Here’s my carving," and give it to me. And, "Wow! You carved this for me?" And you make a big deal out of it; but, again, it’s the thought behind doing that. I know many times as our sons grew up, they would color a picture, do a drawing, and they would bring it in; and they would smile because they were sure we understood that this was, what? An elephant, a giraffe, or whatever. You could look at it and you would not know from Adam what was in the picture; but, again, that wasn’t the point. The point was, they sat down and they thought of their parents. They colored it. They gave it to us, and that’s what parents look for. I know that every one of you here who have had children or grandchildren have experienced the same type of thing with your children, and the fact that they go out of their way to try to please you.

Little children don’t have hostile attitudes toward their parents, not if they have been halfway decently reared. Let’s notice Romans:8:7 . We’re all familiar with this particular scripture. It talks about the carnal mind.

Rom:8:7-8 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. So, then, those that are in the flesh cannot please God.

Little children have not yet learned to be that way. As Mr. Armstrong used to explain, a child is born neutral. They can be influenced for good or for evil. As they grow up, they begin to be influenced by society, by Satan, by others around them; but a baby’s not thinking about how can he get even with his parents. The little baby that was blessed here today hasn’t gone back to its seat, thinking, "When I get a little bigger, I’m going to tell Ed Smith off." No. No, that’s not what he was thinking. All he knew was that there was a lot of attention paid to him, a lot of love being demonstrated.

A baby does not think how he can get even with his parents or how he’s going to take advantage of his siblings. Children–and I’m talking about younger children–simply don’t argue with their parents. They believe what they { the parents } say. You know, they have very little knowledge, very little understanding.

And what about us, brethren? As we have come into God’s Church, do we argue with God? Do we argue with Him? Do we want our own way? Or are we like a little child, just totally submissive to his parents, following them? Now, we know those things change over a period of time; but, yet, there are those lessons that God wants us to learn.

I Peter 2 , I think, demonstrates the attitude that God wants us to have and not have. I Peter, chapter 2, beginning in verse 1 . It says:

I Pet. 2:1-2 — Therefore, laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking, as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby...

God’s desire for us is that when He calls us, we come to desire, to love, to want the milk of the word and to receive direction from Him. When a baby is first born, what does it want? Well, when our five sons were born, one of the first things they did was they started nursing; and they didn’t quit nursing. This was something that they desired; and as they nursed, they grew. Now, we realize that a baby does not stay on milk forever. There comes a point where they begin to eat solid food; but, brethren, what God is looking for in us is that we have that attitude whereby we desire the word of God, that we want to learn from what God says, that He directs us and that we believe what He says, and we’re not going to argue with Him.

It’s difficult for adults to be able to admit that we don’t know how to live, that we don’t know how to direct our lives, that we don’t know the way to walk, and that God does. He says, "This is the way; walk you in it," and when we follow what He says, then we have the confidence, the trust, that if we do what God says, it’s going to work out. And that’s the way a little child is.

Another thing. Let’s go over to I John, chapter 4. Excuse me, I John, chapter 1. Another attribute you find that little children have...as I said, they have a humility. They want to please their parents, but they do not put on a lot of airs. They’re not going around trying to impress people.

I remember once we had a number of people over to our house, and these types of things always seem to occur when you have company. It was getting late. Our boys were fairly young at that time, and we asked our boys to go take a bath and go to bed. So we’re all sitting around, talking with the adults. I’m not going to name names, to protect the innocent here; but one of our sons came out stark naked out of the bathroom and walked into the living room and just started talking. He brought a towel in with him. He wanted us to dry him off, which we did. And we were embarrassed. He wasn’t. He didn’t know to be embarrassed. He was just too young. But, of course, we got embarrassed and we dried him off, covered him with the towel, and took him back. Well, you’ll find that little children, as they’re growing up...he wasn’t trying to impress anybody. He wasn’t trying to put on any airs. He was just being a child. Now, the point of the story is not to run around naked in front of company. That’s not the point of the story. The point is, when it comes to our relationship with God, are we willing to go before God and admit the way we are?

Let’s notice here in I John, chapter 1 , and verse 8 . It says:

I John:1:8-10 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.

The attitude that God is looking for is that we don’t try to just cover up our faults and sins before God. We freely admit them. We ask for forgiveness. We acknowledge who we are. Again, one of the hardest things for human beings to do is to admit when we’re wrong. Just stop and think, if you’re married, how often you have had to tell your mate, "I’m sorry. I’m wrong." I can remember that there have been times that I was discussing something, maybe heatedly, with my wife; and in the middle of the discussion, I realize that I’m wrong and she’s right. But what do you do? Do you just stop and say, "You’re right and I’m wrong." Nah, you try to come around and you try to explain this so that you don’t look too bad. After a while, I’ve learned to just shut up, say, "Look, you’re right; I’m wrong," when I truly am wrong. God is looking for an attitude where we’re willing to acknowledge who we are, what our weaknesses are, and to repent.

In Hebrews, chapter 12 , we see that God deals with us as children. We are His children. Hebrews, chapter 12, beginning here in verse 9 . Notice, it says:

Heb:12:9 Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live?

So our own human parents have been there to correct us, to guide us, because a young child doesn’t always know the right way to go; and so, we have to look to God. He’s the one who gives us direction.

Notice verse 10. It says:

Verses 10-11 — For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit... any time that God corrects us, it is for our profit, so that we profit from it... that we may be partakers of His holiness. God wants us to become holy, as He is. Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

So, brethren, we find that in dealing with our children, there are times that we have to correct them. They do make mistakes. Now, we should learn a lesson from that because we make mistakes, too, don’t we? And we have to be able to confess our sins.

Small children generally are not two-faced. That’s a proclivity that adults have, as we grow up. They { children } generally call things the way they see them. As an example, I remember our explaining to our children as they were growing up, why we did not have a Christmas tree, why we did not decorate and put lights up. And they always wondered. I remember, as we were driving down one of the streets in our neighborhood, all the lights were on–and, you know, they are very beautiful, when you have houses decorated with all these lights. And yet, one of our sons knew that they were pretty, but he also knew that they were wrong. He said, "Look at those beautiful pagan lights." So he had them pegged as pagan, but they were sure pretty.

You find many times, children, when they see something, they just call it what they see. I remember we were at the Feast of Tabernacles once. We saw a woman smoking. One of our sons piped up where the woman could hear, "Why is she smoking? We’re not supposed to smoke." Of course, we were embarrassed at it. The woman should have been embarrassed; but, you know, children sometimes will say things and they will say them just right out. They don’t try to hide it. As adults, many times, we try to reason around things, justify things, instead of just freely admitting that, yes, what we’ve done is wrong or we shouldn’t be doing it. Or if somebody points it out, even a little kid, we should say, "Yes, I’m wrong. I need to stop that."

Notice David’s attitude back in Psalm 51 and verse 4 , and one reason why he is referred to as a man after God’s own heart. Let’s begin in verse 3 . David says:

Ps:51:3-4 For I acknowledge my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against You, You only, have I sinned, and done this evil in Your sight–that You may be found just when You speak, and blameless when You judge.

David confessed His sins before God, and he acknowledged them. Now, we know the events leading up to this. It took a while for David to come to see and to know what his sin was; but once it was pointed out, he was willing and did repent.

So, what is the attitude, the attribute that God is looking for in us? Well, God expects us to openly confess our sins to Him, to admit when we’re wrong, not to try to hide it, and not to try to cover it up, but to just simply be open.

Let’s move on to another attribute. I’m sure that all of us, if we sat down and we started talking about our children, that we could come up with dozens of different things that we could learn from our children. One of the things that I’m amazed at is how excited small children can be over the smallest thing, the littlest thing. They can just be happy going for a car ride. And when we had some of our children, putting them in a car and riding was the only way they would go to sleep, so, not only did it make them happy, it made us happy. But go to McDonald’s and watch all the little kids playing in the playground. Why do so many families end up at McDonald’s? Well, because, you know, they buy some food, pull their shoes off, and they go in and they start jumping around. They start playing.

You can buy young children a toy–maybe you’ve experienced this–open it up and give it to them. What do they play with? They play with the box, right? They get the box out, they crawl in the box, they stack the box, you know, they tear the box apart. One of the greatest toys a child can have is dirt and an old can. Go outside. I mean, you can buy them this expensive toy, and they go outside with the box and get an old can and, "Vroom!" They start playing around the tree in the dirt. A testimony to that is when they come in in the evening and you have to bathe them, and they’re dirty from head to toe. We’ve all experienced that. Well, brethren, can we still get excited, as was brought out in the sermonette, about the work of God? Can we still get excited about tithing and supporting the Church of God? Can we get excited about serving other people? About the opportunities that we have to help and to pray and to give to others? Or have we become too sophisticated or too jaded?

As children become older today, you know, it takes more to turn them on. I can remember even growing up into teenage-hood, it didn’t take much to entertain children. All you had to have was two or three kids, you could play "hide and seek" or "Red Rover," and you could go on and play half the night. Well, today, unless you’ve got some fantastic TV program or some amazing video game that gets a little more violent and more exciting, you know, to turn young people on, or a movie that’s way out...schools or friends, many times, you find it gets more and more difficult for a young person to really be turned on to become excited about anything, or to hold their interest.

Well, brethren, we’ve just returned from the Feast of Tabernacles, and I know that all of us, wherever you were attending, heard sermons that brought you back very clearly to the vision of God’s kingdom, why we’re here; and that vision was very vividly painted for us. Hopefully, we will not allow that to slip away from us, that we will continue to be just as excited tomorrow, a week after, a month after, as we were when God first began to work with us.

Matthew, chapter 11, Christ acknowledged that there would be times that we would have difficulties or problems, that things would not always go well, but I want you to notice what He promised. Beginning here in chapter 11, Matthew 11, verse 28 . He says:

Matt:11:28-30 — " Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light."

You see, God wants us to go to Him with our problems, seek His help and His strength. God is our Father, and He is deeply concerned for us. We are His children. Never forget, back here in II Corinthians, chapter 6, verse 17 , that God refers to us as His children.

II Cor. 6:17-18 — Therefore, "Come out from among them and be separate," says the Lord. "Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you. I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters," says the LORD Almighty.

Brethren, to understand that the great God of the universe is our Father, and that there is a father-son-daughter relationship, we should never forget the excitement of our calling, the purpose of being called now, the opportunity that we have to help one another, the opportunity that God has called us to be able to help others in the future. These are not small things, like little children who can get excited over a very small thing. We have the highest calling that there is. The greatest calling, the greatest opportunity anyone can have; and God has called us. We are His children. So, when you see a child get excited about some small thing, be reminded that that’s the way God wants us to be constantly about Him, His Kingdom, and about the calling that He is giving us.

Now, back in Psalm, chapter 131 , beginning in verse 1 , we find another attribute that we should be emulating here. In my Bible, I have a heading here. It says, "Simple Trust in the Lord," to summarize this particular chapter. It says:

Ps:131:1-3 LORD, my heart is not haughty, nor my eyes lofty. Neither do I concern myself with great matters, nor with things too profound for me. Surely I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with his mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me. O Israel, hope in the LORD from this time forth and forever.

So, here you find a psalm of David whereby he’s describing that he’s like a weaned child who trusts in his mother, trusts in his parents, and that it’s a type of Israel hoping and trusting in God.

Whom do our children cry out for? Whom do they go to if they have a bad dream? Or something, you know, a nightmare occurs? I remember one of our sons one night woke us up screaming. We thought something terrible had happened to him. We went into his room, and he said there’s a bug up on the wall. Well, we said, "I don’t see a bug." "There’s a bug." So we turned every light on and we went around. We got him up and we looked at every shadow in the room. We looked behind everything. There were no bugs. Now, I don’t know if he had a nightmare or if he was lying there in the dark and he saw something that looked like a bug; but I’ll guarantee you, when he was in trouble, he was looking for Mom and Dad. That’s where he went.

Many of you, probably, are like us. We’ve had a kingsize bed most of our marriage; and when there’s a thunderstorm or there was lightning, something going on, we’d wake up in the morning and there’d be four or five kids in bed with us. That’s happened on many occasions. You know, you’d feel one slip in and somewhere somebody else would come in at the foot of the bed, and they’d all end up in there. If they were afraid, all they had to do was to be close to Dad or Mom, and they knew that they were safe.

I remember, personally, one of the most terrifying experiences I had as a youngster. I was probably ten, eleven, somewhere around there. We lived on a farm, and it was my job, generally, to go out to the well to draw water and to bring it back into the house. I remember one night stepping outside and I was temporarily blinded, coming out of the light into the dark; and I looked over at the edge of the woods, and I thought I saw a giant wolf or a coyote, you know, something of this nature. And I absolutely froze right there. I could not move. I was petrified. I thought, "You’re a gonner. You’ve had it. This thing is going to get you." I looked at it and I looked and I thought I could see it move, and I was just petrified. I don’t know how long I stood there until finally my Dad came out, "Where’s the water?" He was wondering why I hadn’t done what he said. And he came up and put his arm around me, and I relaxed. I said, "I think there’s a wolf over there." He said, "Where?" And we looked over there, and there was a pile of bushes over next to the woods, and that’s all it was. { Sigh }, you know, I breathed a sigh of relief; but as long as my Dad was there, I hurried up, I ran over and got the water and came back in. As long as he was out there (because there could have been a wolf out there. Who knows!), I was no longer afraid.

Well, this is the attitude that God wants to see in us. There are all kinds of problems that we have to face as Christians. It could be job-related, it could be a health problem, it could be any type of difficulty; and God wants us to come and look to Him, hold His hand, and trust in Him.

Let’s back up to Psalm, chapter 23 . This is a psalm we know, probably, by heart; and yet, it’s a psalm that talks about our putting our trust, our putting our confidence in God. It says:

Ps:23:1-5 The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death... and I thought I was walking through that valley as a child... I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. And then it goes on to how You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies...

See, God wants us to put our trust in Him, have confidence in Him, to know that He will help us through whatever difficulty, whatever problems we have. Whom do our children turn to when they’re hurt, when they’re hungry, when they cut themselves, when they have a nightmare? Well, they come to us as parents, and God wants us to go to Him and to look to Him for help.

Another attribute that children have–and I think this is something that we see and that we appreciate as parents very much–is a loving attitude. A loving attitude. Children are constantly, young children, telling their parents how much they love them. I remember one of our sons had this expression, and until he grew up, he would still say this. He would come up to his mother, hug her around the neck, and say, "I love you up to the stars and the moon and back." And that was something he would just say over and over again. One of our sons would call his mother "Sweetie pie" and "Darling," and those types of things, and they just sort of melt a mother. They melt a father also.

Children will come up and put their arms around your neck and they’ll slobber on you. I’m sure you’ve all had young children do that. Have you ever seen a child trying to learn how to kiss? You say, "Give me a kiss," and they start slobbering and you’ve got to go like this or get your hanky out or a towel to wipe your face off; but, boy, is it exciting because you know that they’re demonstrating their love, their concern, for you. Well, God gets just as excited as we parents do when we, as His sons and daughters, begin to respond back to him.

You see, the first time you get down on your knees and you pray to God and you don’t know what to say and you get down and you say, "Well, here I am. I don’t know what to say, but I’ve said it. Amen." Well, that may have been all that you said in your prayer, but God got excited because He knows that you are beginning. You’re taking the first step on your journey toward eternal life. So when we begin to respond to God and we begin to show love to Him, to express how much we love Him, how much we appreciate Him, what He’s done for us, God appreciates that just as much as we as parents do our children. You see, those little small children, when they begin to do that, especially our grandchildren, when they begin to show that love to us, they just melt our hearts. And, you know, you’d do almost anything for them. And what do you think God will do for us?

In I John:4:7 , we read this:

I John:4:7-10 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

So we find that God is love; and as we begin to learn to walk this way of life, we begin to love, we begin to express love to one another and to God. Remember the two great commandments? You are to love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your might; and you are to love your neighbor as yourself. This is what God expects from us.

Sometimes, sad to say–and I’ve found myself doing this–we become so busy that we forget to express our love to God, to just say, "God, thank You. I love You. I appreciate You being my Father. I need You. Thank You for calling me. Thank You for being my Dad," and just talking to God and expressing to Him how much you love Him. Do you think God gets tired of hearing that? That God gets tired of our expressing that? Do we ever grow too old to say those things to our own parents, or to hear them expressed from our children back to us?

I’ll just tell you a story about my own father. My Dad, growing up, was not a very demonstrative type of person. He did not show a lot of affection, a lot of attention. When he was 80 years old, we thought he was on his death bed. He had about four or five things that the doctors said would kill him. He was in a coma. He had been in a coma for several days. He had emphysema. He had liver failure, kidney failure. He was on a breathing machine, and he could only breathe once out of every twelve breaths on his own. The rest of the time, the respirator was keeping him alive. The family was called in. We were all there, and the doctors said, "Well, he doesn’t have much time. Do you think he would like to be kept alive, or should we disconnect?" We all agreed that Dad did not want to be artificially kept alive, so the doctor said, "I’ll tell you what I’ll do. I’ll give him a day and we’ll leave him on the machine for another day and then we’ll disconnect." Well, during this whole period of time, we talked about this, that we had heard that somebody in a coma, even though they’re in a coma, many times they can hear what you’re saying, so each one of us, as his sons and daughters, in-laws, my wife, anyone who was there, we would go in and we’d sit down and hold my Dad’s hand. Now, my Dad’s hand was twice as big as my hand. He was a farmer. He milked 25 cows twice a day by hand, and his forearms and his fists were twice as big as mine; but I’d sit there, like holding a piece of ham, and hold his hand and say, "Dad, I love you. I appreciate you. I wish I could have said this to you more often." And each one of us talked to my father in that way.

Well, the next day they disconnected the machine, and he started breathing. A couple hours later, he opened his eyes. Later that evening, he was sitting up on the side of the bed. When they finally pulled the tube out–my Dad couldn’t speak because he’d had this tube down his throat–but the first thing he said was, "I love you." He didn’t say it that plain, but it was very plain what he was saying. And that’s the first time that I had ever heard my Dad say, "I love you," and express it that way. From that time forward (God gave him three extra years–he died on his birthday, when he was 83), he never stopped expressing { his love }. When I’d see him, I’d put my arm around him and I’d say, "I love you," and he would say back, "I love you." That was a life-changing experience for him, and it certainly was for the rest of us.

Well, brethren, if you have parents, I would say you need to tell them how much you love them. And if you’re children, you need to express to your parents the love that you have for them. My mother died recently, as most of you know, before the Feast; and one of the things that we were very thankful for was that we could be there and sit down with her before she died and tell her how much we loved her–we knew she was dying–but how much we appreciated her.

Brethren, does God ever get tired of hearing us say, "I love You, Father. Thank You for what You’ve done for me. Thank You for Christ’s sacrifice. Thank You." I don’t think so. I think God wants us to express that love and that concern to Him. Little children are wonderful in that, and so should we be.

One final point here concerning children. That is, young children are totally dependent upon their parents. They’re totally dependent. A child is totally dependent, and when he is first born, you have to feed him, you have to clothe him, you have to shelter him, you have to protect that child. Everything is supplied by the parents, and without that, the child would not live.

In James, chapter 1 , back up to James 1 and verse 17 , we find that:

James:1:17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.

Brethren, God supplies everything that we need spiritually. He provides for our needs. I think it’s over here. I didn’t write it down, but in...let me see. Yes. II Peter, chapter 1, and verse 3 , says:

II Pet. 1:3 — ...as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue...

Brethren, God supplies everything that we need spiritually. He says, if we lack it...He says, "If you lack wisdom, ask." But if we lack love, just ask. If we lack wisdom, we need to ask. God will give to us the areas that we’re deficient in.

I think that a child proportionally learns more during its first year than any other year of its life. And the same thing is true of us, that we have to grow up. In Ephesians ...not Ephesians, Hebrews . Hebrews, chapter 5 , beginning in verse 12 . It says:

Heb:5:12-14 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.

So, brethren, we start out on the milk of God’s word; but, then we are to grow up. We are to mature. And children don’t stay babies forever. What if you had a child, say, your son or daughter, and they’re 18 years old and they’re here at services, and they say, "I’m hungry." And all at once you pull out this gallon jug, and you say, "OK, lie down," and you give them milk, and that’s all they’ve ever had to eat or to drink is that milk. We would think that’s a little funny, wouldn’t we? Well, the same thing is true–God doesn’t expect us to stay on milk forever. It’s like I Corinthians 14:20 , say, that we are not to remain children in understanding. When it comes to understanding, we are to grow up. In malice, we’re to be children. We’re not to have malice. We’re no longer to be children, tossed to and fro and carried about by every wind of doctrine, but God wants us to mature and to grow up and to fully understand His way of life.

A child is constantly learning, constantly learning how to do everything. First of all they learn a language. That’s amazing that a child can learn to speak, but they learn everything in the first few years; and you find that the same thing is true of us. Is there ever a time that we can say that "I know it all. I think I understand everything that I need to know to be in the Kingdom"? I don’t think so! If you want to compare understanding to this glass of water, you and I, when we first come in, God gives us understanding, but it’s sort of like, here; and the more we study, the deeper it gets. I don’t care what topic you study. I don’t care what subject you look into. The more you study it, the deeper it gets; and that’s the amazing thing about the Scriptures. You can study it all of your life and never fully comprehend what God knows and understands about it and what He’s trying to reveal. There’s always room for growth, for development. We should constantly be studying and seeking more understanding. It’s like Matthew:11:25 , where Christ prayed to His Father, and He made this statement:

Matt:11:25 At that time Jesus answered and said, "I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babes."

God has revealed His truths to babes, to those who have been willing to listen, to follow His direction. So, brethren, we should be like children in wanting to learn, to be eager to learn. We should be teachable, but we are to grow up and we are to mature.

The summary of the whole matter is simply this, that God has given us the reproductive process and He has given us children to constantly remind us of what we need to be doing. Yes, we’re adults, but we can learn from children; and every year when we see the blessing of the little children and we look at these little children, we need to reflect, we need to think about what God is doing. We need to incorporate the attributes of little children into our lives. Brethren, let’s make sure that we emulate the humility, that we’re teachable, that we’re trustworthy, dependable, loving, all of these attributes that I have mentioned, because all of us need to have a childlike attitude if we’re going to be in God’s Kingdom.

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