You've heard the story of the old man who walked along a beach littered with thousands of starfish, washed ashore by the high tide. He noticed a young boy picking up starfish and tossing them into the ocean. The old man asked the boy what he was doing and the boy replied, "saving the starfish."
Surprised, the old man said, "there are so many starfish, what difference can you make?"
The boy picked up another starfish, tossed it in the ocean and said, "It made a difference for that one."
This is just a cute little story, but it makes a great point. The old man's mindset did not allow him to make a difference, but to the simple, little boy, every little bit made a difference, no matter how small.
In that same hour he rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will."
Why does Jesus give thanks that God had hidden these things from the wise and revealed them to little children instead? One reason is because "God delights in using the weak and foolish things of this world to confound the wise" (David Guzik). Children are simple believers, and He wants to use the simple.
"He had to send the simple, because the wise of this world would never go out as lambs among the wolves.
He had to send the simple, because they would not change the message.
He had to send the simple, because He wanted to reach the simple.
He had to send the simple, because they would do the work in His name.
He had to send the simple, because they would rejoice over the work.
He had to send the simple, because they would give the praise to Jesus" (David Guzik in his commentary on Luke 10).
How many of us have lost the simplicity of child like faith? It so often goes from hanging on to every word of the sermon, to thoughts of "I've heard this one before." From loving other believers to thinking you're better than them. From a deep desire to serve others in the church to frustration that no one is serving you. From excitement over what God is doing in someone else's life to being upset that He's not doing that in yours.
If you have been a Christian for a long time, this is probably very convicting. It is for me.
I need to know how to combat this mindset and how a believer can return to the simplicity that is spoken in Luke 10. Here are a few ways we can do this:
1. JOHN THE BAPTIST SAYS IT WELL. "HE MUST INCREASE, BUT I MUST DECREASE" (JOHN 3:30).
As we grow in our Christian walk, we might begin trusting in our own knowledge and understanding to a fault. This is the kind of person that God hides things from, as it says in Luke 10:21. I don't know about you, but I do not want God to hide His Word from me. I want His wisdom and teachings to be poured into my heart continually. So if you find you are not learning as you used to, really think about where your heart has been as of late.
But if instead, God increases and we decrease, we become more focused and reliant on Him.
2. ASK GOD TO SOFTEN YOUR HEART
"And I will give them singleness of heart and put a new spirit within them. I will take away their stony, stubborn heart and give them a tender, responsive heart, so they will obey my decrees and regulations. Then they will truly be my people, and I will be their God" (Ezekiel 11:19-20).
I think the longer we are Christians, the more hardened our hearts can become. We feel entitled rather than humble. Our hearts become hard rather than soft. And instead of building others up, in our hearts we often tear them down. I think this is such a good prayer to continue to go back to: asking God to soften our hearts.
3. BE FILLED WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT
This is probably the most important. It is by grace alone that we are children of God. We can choose to be disciplined in our walk by reading the Bible everyday, or praying before a meal, and all those things can very well help our Christian walk, but all the work in our hearts is done by the Holy Spirit. It's so important for us to continually ask God to fill us with the Holy Spirit.
And it's not so much you getting more of the Holy Spirit, but the Holy Spirit getting more of you.
4. TAKE UP YOUR CROSS
We really must take up our cross daily, or in other words die to ourselves (Luke 9:23) in order to be a vessel for the Lord. I am not usable to God when I am seeking my own agenda.
"Today many people are attempting to use their mental capacity and logical thinking to obtain sanctification, yet this is nothing but a religious fabrication... The heartstrings of their old nature have not been broken, and their unyielding character, which they inherited from Adam, has not been ground to powder" (excerpt from L.B Cowman's Streams in the Desert, June 11).
5. PUT OTHERS BEFORE YOURSELF
"Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others" (Philippians 2:3-4).
The moment we think we are better than someone else, we are head for trouble. The Bible says there is no one righteous, not even one (Romans 3:10). If you think someone is struggling, instead of elevating yourself above them, get on your knees and pray for them.
It can be challenging to remain in this simple and humble mindset. But it's the place our hearts must be in to be used by God. It means decreasing so that God can increase, it means having a softened heart, it means being filled with the Holy Spirit, it means taking up our cross daily, and it means putting others before ourselves.
Remain in Jesus and allow Him to do the work.
"So the last will be first, and the first last. For many are called, but few chosen” (Matthew 20:16).