During Jesus’ early ministry, it had been a practice by Jewish leaders to talk about what kind of person would be the greatest in the kingdom. Jesus often talked about being humble, and when asked who is the greatest in heaven, He said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.” (Matthew 18:1-5).
When we are introduced to Adam and Eve, they are presented as adults. They were adults but were childlike in their innocence. They would have seen God as the provider of all their needs and blessings, and attributed everything around them to Him. When they were initially told not to eat from a specific tree, they did not ask why but accepted God’s word and moved on. So what happened to them, what caused the change in their attitude and behaviour?
Being around children, you observe their choices are based on obedience, curiosity or their desires. When very young, they did or did not do things because their parents guided or warned them. They had no reason to question their parents because they did not know what was good or bad for them; they accepted the guidance. They may have been very smart, talked early, walked early but were very innocent. Often when they found themselves in trouble, it was out of curiosity – they saw something that sparked their interest and went for it. However, a parent was close by to help them make good choices. There is a point where children do things based on their own will. They understand the difference but want to choose for themselves. They will reach an age or stage in their life where they want to decide what is right or wrong. They become adults in mindset believing they know what is best for them.
Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit, not because they were curious. They accepted and knew they were not supposed to eat from the tree. However, Satan tempted them to think about possible benefits. Adam and Eve saw something for themselves and reached out for it. They could have avoided the temptation but did not and in doing so literally grew up by telling God they knew what is best for themselves. Interestingly they could have made an adult choice to confess to their transgression but behaved childlike in blaming someone else.
Once Adam and Eve were sent out of the garden, they had to face the world as adults striving to succeed and make choices that affected their daily lives. Adults plan and consider options, whereas children know very little about expectations or promises and live day-to-day in the moment. Being an adult is not bad, but sometimes the choices we make are very selfish. We often find it difficult to accept that people want to help us with our choices because they care and not because they may benefit.
Little children don’t think about their placement in the family or whether they are more loved or less loved by a parent. When we believe and repent, we are accepted into God’s family as His children; loved equally. He knows we will be curious and so the Holy Spirit is with us to guide us with our choices. But we remain free to choose and behave as selfishly, or we can make a choice to depend on our Father’s care. God is reaching out to us with arms wide open, lean into Him and accept your place in heaven.