"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).
In the above text His disciples approached Jesus wanting to know "who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" In order to answer their inquiry and teach them of the nature of His kingdom, He beckoned a little child to come to Him. He set the child in the midst of the disciples. He told them that unless they became as little children that they could not even enter into the kingdom of heaven and that if they were ever to be considered great in that kingdom that they would have to humble themselves even as a child is humble.
Humility is a key factor in ones salvation. One cannot be saved by the gospel until he humbles himself in obedience to it. In the sermon on the mount Jesus said, " Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 5:3). In commenting on this verse, H. Leo Boles said, "'The poor in spirit' are those whose minds are suited to the humble station of life; 'poor' means destitute of something; poor in spirit means those who are destitute of the proud, haughty spirit of the world It is the same spirit that is required when we are told that we must become as little children, if we would enter the kingdom of heaven; 'The poor in spirit' truly describes a state of men lowly and reverent before God; humble, not proud; contrite, not rebellious" (A Commentary on the Gospel According to Matthew, Gospel Advocate, pp. 120-121). Humility, submission of ones selfish will and stubborn pride, is essential if one is to be saved.
That humility must continue during ones life as a Christian if he is to remain in fellowship with God. The apostle Peter, writing to Christians in his first epistle, told them to be humble "...Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for 'God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.' Therefore, humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you" (1 Peter 5:5-7).
Though Jesus taught His disciples many lessons on humility, such as in Matthew 20:20-28, probably the most striking is found in John 13:1-16. Nearing the end of His life on earth, to illustrate the humility they needed to have, He stooped and washed their feet. Since He was their master, He could have demanded such an action of them but instead He performed this lowly task on them. You see, they needed to learn to humble themselves to one another and to other men (Matthew 7:12) if they were going to be able to full the tasks He was going to give them.
We must have that same humility today. God still resists the proud and only gives grace to the humble. We must not be filled with pride but rather with humility, serving the Lord and ministering to the needs of others. As those disciples long ago were told to follow the example of Jesus, we must pattern our attitude and actions after it today. He humbled Himself in coming to earth, taking on the form of man and becoming the servant of all (Philippians 2:5-8).
Let us be like that small child and like the Christ -- meek and humble. Let us determine to be those who are willing to submit to the will of God in all things. It is only then that we will be considered great in the kingdom of heaven and great in the eyes of God.