Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Becometh As A Child

"At the same time came the disciples into Jesus saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?

"And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them,

"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.

"Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is in greatest in the kingdom of heaven." (Matt 18:1-4)

These words the Savior spoke to His disciples in the midst of His earthy sojourn. In the aftermath of the destruction in the Americas following His crucifixion, Jesus Christ taught:

"Therefore, whoso repenteth and cometh into me as a little child, him will I receive, for of such is the kingdom of God.” (3 Nephi 9:22)

What does it mean to become as a little child, why are children the greatest in the kingdom of heaven, and how are we to become like children that we, too, may inherit the kingdom of God? The Book of Mormon prophet King Benjamin taught:

“For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been since the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father." (Mosiah 3:19)

We learn from King Benjamin that in order to become as a child, we must follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit and put off the natural man. We must try to be like Jesus and do the things that we have seen Him do (see 3 Nephi 18:2427:21). Children are the greatest in the kingdom of heaven because they are so precious an innocent. They are not so jaded by the world and are quicker to show love. They are closer to their Father in Heaven, trusting, humble, submissive, and possess each of the Christlike attributes that we must develop as we are trying to be like Jesus. Children are greatest in the kingdom of heaven because they are pure.

But how do we become as little children with all of our day-to-day stressors, how do we simply trust God when His teachings so often conflict with the teachings of the world, and how do we persist during those times in which we are tempted to make a wrong choice? As we are trying to be like Jesus and follow in His ways, how can we know that we are being successful in putting off the natural man even though we may not see immediate, measurable improvement?

In answer to these concerns, President Henry B. Eyring counseled:

"For all of us it may be hard to see in our lives an increasing power to love and to see ourselves becoming more like the Savior, our perfect example. I wish to encourage you. You have had evidences that you are moving along the road to becoming more like Jesus. It will help to remember how you have felt, at times, like a little child, even in the midst of cares and trials.... Think of the times you felt, perhaps recently, as those little children did singing, 'I’m trying to be like Jesus; I’m following in his ways.'... You have felt the peace of a pure little child at times when you have tried to be like Jesus.

“I hope you will go out today looking for opportunities to do as He did and to love as He loves. I can promise you the peace that you felt as a child will come to you often and it will linger with you." (“Our Perfect Example,” Ensign, Nov 2009)

We can have the assurance that we are on the pathway to becoming like the Savior as we try to love our neighbors and learn to serve our friends. Remember that all are our neighbors and all are children of our Heavenly Father. The key to becoming as a little child lies in the chorus to the Primary song quoted by President Eyring:

“Love one another as Jesus loves you.
Try to show kindness in all that you do.
Be gentle and loving in deed and in thought,
For these are the things Jesus taught.”

Friends, try to remember the lessons taught by the Savior. Serve others, be kind, lift up the hands which hang down and strengthen the feeble knees. When the path of discipleship, the road to eternal life, gets difficult, remember the day of gladness when Jesus will come again. Lose yourself in the service of others. All will be made right through His Atonement. As we try to be like Jesus, we will all receive the blessings of leading a Christlike and childlike life.