A LITTLE CHILD SHALL LEAD THEM
T. Pierce Brown
In Isaiah 11:6 we find the following prophecy, “And the wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.” Jesus said in Mark 10:14,”Suffer the little children to come unto me; forbid them not: for to such belongeth the kingdom of God”
These scriptures have impressed me for half a century, but have become more meaningful as we have had our three granddaughters with us much of the time this summer when we were not going all over the country speaking about ONE NATION UNDER GOD program. As I have seen attitudes and actions of those precious girls, I have been moved to tears and humbled as I realize how much I need to learn from them. Indeed, “A little child shall led them” has many applications.
Let me share with you some of the things I have noted in them from which I can get great lessons. These things are only related incidentally to their beauty or brilliance. The principles they teach me are those which apply to those of us who are old, ignorant or ugly. My oldest son has one daughter Chelsea. My youngest son has two, Courtney & Emily. They play together like sisters should, rather than like cousins might. Courtney, eleven years old, has a sense of responsibility for them that should characterize each of us as children of God. In Genesis 4:9 we find Abel asking about Cain, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” To be a brother’s keeper (or sister’s) in the proper sense, without being “bossy” is a tremendous task, but Courtney can do it. Without even knowing that Paul said in Galatians 6:2, “Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ,” she does it. When Emily or Chelsea fall off the bicycle or roller skates, she ministers to their needs with a mother’s (or a sister’s) tender care.
She plans and guides them into activities that are inspirational and helpful, without having to beg, coerce, or whine. They play house, theater, store, newspaper publisher, or whatever their agile minds can dream about, but each is involved in a meaningful way. I wish I had been able to lead my classes and brothers and sisters into meaningful activity for Christ without nagging, fussing, or complaining. If I had only developed the childlike attitude, instead of being arrogant, impatient, or demanding, I could have been a much better preacher.
If one of them happens to do something that momentarily hurts the other’s feelings, they do not run off and pout all day about it. Courtney hurt herself by falling off the bicycle. Emily and Chelsea were laughing. They were not laughing at her, but at the kind of things little girls always find that make them laugh. Courtney’s feelings were hurt for a moment, but when they saw that they had hurt her feelings without meaning to, they immediately were sorry and tried to correct the situation.
Would it not be a wonderful thing if in the Lord’s church, our brothers and sisters would practice the same kind of thing? Those children are probably not even aware of Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 5:23, “If therefore thou art offering thy gift at the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath aught against thee, leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way, first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.” Their grandmother has probably read something like that to them, but they do not do it in ritual obedience to law, but because it is their nature.
We have become partakers of the Divine nature, if we are children of God, and should not do things because the law requires it of us, but because it is from the heart. That in no sense means that we merely try to obey the principle, but disregard the command, as many among us are apparently trying to teach today. It does mean that the more we have the mind of Christ and the spirit of little children, the less burdensome we will find the commands of God, for they become a part of our nature.
A thing that is so sweet that it almost makes me cry is the attitude that Emily demonstrates. She does not like green beans. She knows that we think they are good for her, so when she is at our house, she deliberately takes a spoonful on her plate and eats them. She does not do it for fear of being spanked, or even chided. She does it purely for love and respect. What a tremendous lesson we can get from that relative to what our attitude should be toward God. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 10:31, “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” Our attitude should be to please and glorify God, not simply to escape punishment. Do not ask the question, “Where did God indicate that I have to attend church on Sunday evening?” Simply ask, “What would God rather I would do?”
Another thing impressed me with them. I am somewhat intimidated by my computer. When I started trying to learn how to use the thing, I scarcely knew the difference between software and hardware, and do not know much more now. But even Chelsea, who is now six years old, has been doing things with a computer for three years, and none of them seem to be scared by how complex a problem is, or how little they know. They seem to instinctively have the attitude Paul had when he said in Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things in Him that strengtheneth me.”
When we first began to plan the ONE NATION UNDER GOD program, we thought of trying to raise $20,000,000 from a brotherhood composed of thousands of autonomous congregations, each with their own problems, most of whom are not even meeting their own budgets, and the task seemed almost too big to consider. As Horace Burks and I talked about it, we both expressed the thought that it was God’s business, and He was and is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all we can ask or think. There is no task too big for God and you to handle, if it is what He wants done. Whether we need more confidence in God’s word, confidence in self, or just the childlike faith of little children, it is a lesson just to see my grandchildren approach the biggest task without fear or consternation.
I have probably prided myself on my ability to teach my children and grandchildren many things. It may have even been the kind of pride that is not pleasing to God, for it is sometimes hard to distinguish between the proper kind of “pride” in your work (which means self-respect and knowledge of your ability, etc.) and “pride” which involves haughty arrogance. However, it is humbling to realize that my grandchildren can, without even trying, teach me more that I can teach them by strenuous effort.
Since “of such is the kingdom of heaven,” it behooves each of us to look at the characteristics of little children and try to develop them. Whether we see them as attentive, busy, compassionate, determined, enthusiastic, forgiving, generous, humble, idealistic, joyous, kind, loving, meek, natural, open minded, persevering, questioning, reverent, sincere, tender hearted, unassuming, visionary, winsome, xenial, yearning or zealous we need to realize that if we want to be great in the kingdom of God, we must develop those attributes and strive to demonstrate them.