Read: Matthew 18:1–5

Whoever becomes humble like this child is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 18:4

The disciples wanted to know who was number one, who was at the head of the class, who was the greatest of them all. To make his point, Jesus took a small child and placed the child in their midst as a way of teaching them that a humble child is greater than the most impressive of kings. This instruction might be lost on those of us who believe that children are the most precious gift in the world. For many of us, our children are the greatest gifts we have every received in life. Of course children would be highly valued in heaven, because they are all ready number one in our lives here on earth!

However, in antiquity, children were of little to no value. In a subsistence existence, a child was a drain on a family’s resources until they were old enough to work and make a contribution to the whole. And because the infant and child mortality rate was so high, a child could take up valuable resources and wind up dying without making the slightest contribution to the family’s well-being. Children were the least important people in the world that Jesus lived and taught in. But what is weak and undervalued and unappreciated by us is beloved by God. Who is the greatest? Who is number one? Who will be first? Jesus said it time and time again: those we think of last.

Who do you overlook?

Lord, I overlook so many people in my drive to be first. I want to be a winner. I want to be great in everyone’s eyes, especially my own. I suspect it is my focus on myself that often prevents me from seeing the beauty and value of others. You are number one . . . perhaps I will finally choose to live like You, to love like You, and to understand value as You do. For this I pray, in Your name. AMEN.