This year, I decided to study humility—humility, in God's eyes, not by man's standards.
There are numerous figures from the Bible who were commended for being humble:
Jesus, "the humble King" (Zechariah 9:9)
John the Baptist, "the greatest man, but only a voice" (John 1:23)
Moses, "the humblest man on earth" (Numbers 12:3)
And…two little children with no names recorded.
But God knows them and they know themselves. As I look at the stories about these two unnamed children, a few lessons of humility emerge as I look at their behavior.
Child 1 who offered his lunchbox (John 6:9)
1. Be eager to come to Jesus and share!
Andrew spoke up, "There's a young boy here with five barley loaves and two fish." (John 6:9)
How did Andrew know this? Imagine the setting. What are the chances that this little boy was discovered? There were more than 5000 people and it is likely that at least a few folks brought their own food with them. Perhaps some kept it to themselves so they could eat it later or others were embarrassed to offer a small meal. But imagine a child who was so eager to see Jesus that he ran up to the front and tugged on disciple’s clothes shouting, "Sir, my mother packed me lunch. Jesus can have this if He wants!" How delighted Jesus’ heart must’ve been when He saw a little boy with a small lunch box! He could've performed the miracle just for this child! Sometimes my two year old son, Paul, tries to help mommy or daddy by carrying laundry. He shouts, "Here you go!" Practically speaking, he is not much of a help, but as a parent, I am filled with joy and love to see Paul trying to help.
What could the five loaves and two fish lunch pack represent for me spiritually? It could be a few minute of Sunday sharing, a small word of encouragement, a phone call or e-mail to an individual during the week, a small meal delivered to a family, etc. The sobering thought is that if I don't share or give back to God when God has given me, it will have been wasted and I will miss out on God’s miracles.
2. The child had more faith than Jesus disciples
"… But what good is that with this huge crowd?" (John 6:9) Disciples had seen more miracles: water-to-wine transformation at Cana, healing an official’s son and a lame man. Yet they still didn’t have faith that Jesus could solve the problem at hand. The comforting point is that Jesus still kept them as His close disciples. They were chosen by God and not by themselves. (John 17:6)
3. Accept God will break what you bring before He uses it
Jesus broke the bread and fish to distribute them to more than 5000 people. Had the child stopped Jesus by shouting, "Stop! Don't ruin my lunch! I want to take it back!" The child would have never seen a miracle or perhaps Jesus could've chosen another person's lunch.
4. The child did not ask for recognition—even in secret
The child did not seek the glory for himself. The proof is that no one focuses on this child when reading the Bible. He was content with seeing Jesus up close and not in the works or miracles. On the other hand, how did this event impact the child's life? It is not recorded in the Bible but I imagine he would've told the story over and over to his parents, friends and later to his children and grandchildren.
Child 2 who was called by Jesus (Matt 18:1-11)
When disciples wanted to know who was the greatest in the kingdom of heaven, Jesus called a little child and stated, “unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt 18:3)
5. Turn from sin immediately to restore fellowship with God (Matt 18:1-3)
Do children sin? Yes! But what do they do when they sin? God disciplines them. Then they come right back to restore the intimacy with their father.
When my 2-yr old Paul displays disrespectful behavior to adults (i.e. hitting), I discipline him or use a firm tone in my voice. As soon as he senses the disciplinary act, he turns and opens wide his arms shouting, "Hug, hug!” For the little child, it is unbearable to be separated from his Father by anything.
6. Kids look up to others (Matthew 18:4)
I imagine the little child looking up to the taller Jesus as he is standing in front of the disciples. The child has no doubt that he is smaller and weaker that those around him. This attitude is proof that he does not believe in his own strength. He considers others to be better than himself. Yet he looks up to Jesus or his father as the source of protection. “Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”
7. Receiving little ones is equivalent to receiving Jesus (Matthew 18:5)
“Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives me.” I could look at this in two ways. First, accept those around me who are helpless. Secondly, receive the little child’s attitude in my heart. I believe this is what Jesus is telling me at this time. I need to recognize my weakness and look up to Jesus for strength.
To me, this is the core attribute of humility--looking up to Jesus, every moment of my life.