“For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
(Luke 18:14, NLT)
“I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.”
(Luke 18:17, NLT)
And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.
(Hebrews 11:6, ESV)
Today’s Reading: Luke 18
My seven-year-old is a model of persistence. When he wants my or my wife’s attention, he’s unashamed to ask, no matter the setting.
Middle of a conversation? No problem.
Important work call? Minor inconvenience.
Going to the bathroom? Please.
He’s equally unashamed to request help, whether for tying his shoes or opening the milk carton or a number of other simple tasks someone his age should probably have mastered. But unlike adults, he’s not embarrassed by his inability. He simply accepts it as part of reality.
Luke 18 presents a study in contrasts, summarized in the verses above. Several people — the Pharisee in verses 11-12, a rich young ruler in verses 18-23, and the listeners who “trusted in themselves” in verse 9 — exalt themselves. They believe their actions and abilities earn God’s acceptance and blessing. Jesus makes clear that they will be humbled.
On the other hand, several others humble themselves. The widow in verses 3-5 is unashamed to ask the judge over and over for help. The tax collector in verse 13 is gripped by his sinfulness and need for mercy. The blind beggar in verses 35-43 is dogged in his pursuit of Jesus’ help.
Each of these people displays some of what Jesus means by His statement about receiving the kingdom of God like a child. The reality is that no matter how accomplished or capable you might be, you cannot stand before God on your own merits. Your sins and faults and imperfections are still present.
Faith like a child, in part, means accepting this reality and going to Jesus unashamed and unembarrassed — to cry “Have mercy on me” and to continually rely on Him instead of yourself as your foundation for righteousness.
And unlike the reluctant judge in verses 2-6 (and unlike my wife and I in the face of our son’s persistence), God eagerly listens to our pleas. He delights in showering mercy on His children. Like the tax collector, those who know their need and the ability of Jesus to meet it go home justified, secure and exalted as beloved children of God.
Which category of people — those who trust in themselves or those with childlike faith — do you typically fall into? What is one way you can humble yourself and trust in God’s mercy and help through Jesus today?
What is God’s mercy? Explore more about our merciful God and the cost of His mercy.
Jason Weimer serves as the Director of Publishing at Cru®. He and his team help to write, edit and publish many of the evangelism and discipleship resources used by Cru staff and others around the world, all of which can be found at www.crustore.org. He lives with his family in Orlando, Florida, and enjoys writing, crossword puzzles, and all sorts of games and sports
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