God’s love is a gift, and gifts (by definition) are free. Children typically understand that truth much better than us adults.
The Jesus Storybook Bible has a great illustration about kids and grace.
So while Jesus’ friends were arguing, some people who knew all about getting gifts – in fact, you might say they were gift-experts – had come to see Jesus. Who were they? They were little children. (p.258)
When it comes to receiving gifts, kids get it. The rest of us? Not so much.
Have you ever received a Christmas or birthday present from an unexpected source? Maybe a friend whom you don’t see on a regular basis, or a distant relative? What was your first thought? (C’mon, now, be honest.) Have you never found yourself, instead of being grateful, actually worrying because you then felt an obligation to give them something in return? Maybe you haven’t, but I know that I have.
We just hate to think of ourselves as being in anyone’s debt. But a gift (if it is really a gift) does not put us in debt; it should make us grateful, it should make us (dare I say it) happy! It should simply tell us that we are loved.
No wonder Jesus tells us that we would do well to be more like children in some ways:
At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 18:1-4 ESV)
So kids really are the greatest. Why? Because they are the “gift-experts” or grace-experts, if you will. We can all learn a thing or two from kids about humbly receiving the grace of God. In a way, if we don’t, we will “never enter the kingdom of heaven” (v.3).
We should all seek to grow to maturity in the faith (Hebrews 5:11-6:3), but part of Christian maturity involves growing in childlike-ness (I know, we pastor-types are always making up words) regarding our trust in the Lord Jesus Christ, and our grasp of and reliance upon His grace.
So if you are the parent (or grandparent!) of small children, you must certainly teach them, but don’t forget to take the time to learn from them as well. We could all benefit greatly from the help and example of certified grace-experts!