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By Rachael Branson

What is childlike faith? Jesus’ words in Matthew 18 give us insight…

  • “At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, ‘Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’ Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me.’”—Matthew 18:1-4 (emphasis added)

Childlike faith is a picture of humility and trust

Jesus told His disciples they needed to think about His kingdom and mission differently. It wouldn’t make sense or line up with worldly logic. One wouldn’t gain access or grow in faith based on position and power. Instead, those who converted and were meek and humble, like children, would enter the kingdom of heaven. 

Imagine the blow the disciples must have felt when Jesus spoke these words. These adult men must have thought, “Because we are chosen by Jesus and closely follow Him, we are great in the kingdom.”

In Matthew 19, it is recorded that people brought little children to Jesus for Him to lay hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked them. They didn’t want Jesus to be bothered with something, or someone, considered so insignificant. But Jesus corrected their thinking, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.”  

The message of childlike faith Jesus stated in Matthew 18 is echoed in Matthew 19 and 20 when Jesus said…

  • “But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”—Matthew 19:30
  • “So the last will be first, and the first last. For many are called, but few chosen.”—Matthew 20:16

What Childlike Faith Is Not

Childlike faith is not childish faith. A child full of hope, excitement, and joy in Jesus demonstrates childlike faith. But a child throwing a tantrum, being demanding, and disobedient is childish. This is a demonstration of pride and selfishness.  

So then, what is childlike faith, and how should you pursue it?

5 Ways to Pursue Childlike Faith…

  1. Take God at His Word

The Bible says that God cannot lie (Titus 1:2). So, when you take God at His Word, you trust what He says. You trust who He says He is and who He says you are. Childlike faith trusts God’s Word. In your humanness, you will have doubt. But how you respond to doubt can reveal childlike faith. 

In Mark 9, a father asked Jesus to heal his mute son. Jesus said, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.” The father cried out in tears, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!” This was an honest statement by the father. He took Jesus at His Word, and he cried out for help in his doubt. When you have doubt, agree with God’s Word and ask the Spirit to help align your heart and mind when unbelief creeps in. 

  1. Ask Questions

If you are still on this earth, it is because God is not yet done with you. There is potential within you that He wants to bring out and develop. Asking questions is a way to discover more about God and His plans for you. Just as kids ask questions, you too can boldly approach His throne and ask questions. Kids aren’t afraid to ask questions when they don’t understand something, and you don’t have to be either. 

God is not surprised by the questions you ask. You can’t trip Him up or ask something He can’t answer.  God actually invites you to ask more questions because He knows this draws you closer to Him. 

  1. Be Teachable

Childlike faith makes you teachable. It makes you eager to learn and experience more of God. If you think you have nothing more to learn about Jesus or His kingdom, you are in a dangerous place. This demonstrates a hard and unteachable heart. So be willing to challenge what you think. Perhaps God will reveal you are right, but on the other hand, He might reveal to you a false mindset that has kept you trapped.   

When you are teachable, you are willing to be molded into who God created you to be for His kingdom. After all, the word of God is good for correction and instruction, so that you may be complete and equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

Two playful adults answering the question, “What is childlike faith?”.
  1. Celebrate with Awe and Wonder

People replicate what is celebrated. When you jump for joy because your favorite team wins, others around you join in. 

Psalm 34:2-3 says, “My soul shall make its boast in the Lord; the humble shall hear of it and be glad. Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together.” A child celebrates. They celebrate when they receive a piece of candy or a gift—big or small. They celebrate when they experience something awe-inspiring and wonderful. 

Childlike faith celebrates the awesome and wonderful things of God. It boasts in the Lord and stirs up love in others. Through Christ, your sin is never counted against you. This is a reason to be joyful and celebrate (Romans 4:8). 

  1. Run to Receive

Childlike faith isn’t satisfied with the mundane. Children are excited to receive more of whatever is offered, and they run to get it. If you have children, you know it seems as if they run wherever they go. They are eager. Jesus said He came to give you abundant life. Do you run to receive the abundance? 

Paul wrote to the Corinthians, instructing them to run in such a way to receive the prize. Running to receive what Jesus has for you is a demonstration of childlike faith. 

The Takeaway 

Hebrews 11:6 says, “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”

Jesus said unless we are converted and become as little children, we will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. 

So then, childlike faith is critical to being effective in God’s kingdom. This means we are to humble ourselves, trust in the Lord, and get excited about the work He is doing. 

Does this reflect your faith? Is this a kind of faith you want to pursue?  Ask God where you need childlike faith for Him to work in your life. Does He want you to have more fun, more trust, or run to receive what He offers?

Whatever it is, praise Him for the work He wants to do in and through you in this season of your life.


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