Childish and childlike

“Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. ” (Mat 18:3-4) (NRSV)

Jesus emphasizes the importance of being like a child.  However, when I observe children, I observe much that isn’t very pleasant.  It is important to not confuse “child-like” with “childish” behaviors.

Childish behavior is rooted in selfishness which demands the immediate satisfaction of some perceived need. It is petty and impulsive, refusing to cooperate and throwing tantrums to punish anyone who opposes it. Child-like behavior arises from love which seeks the good of the other. It trusts the parental love which promotes great-heartedness.

This sort of trust doesn’t come easily. It calls for the obedience modeled by Jesus trusting his Father through his Passion, to Hell and back, and finally to the Resurrection.

Published by


I am a retired family physician from rural Iowa and have an MA in Theology from Franciscan University at Stubenville, OH. While my native language is evangelical Protestant, I am fluent in traditional Catholic as well.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s