Out of the mouth of babies and infants, you have established strength because of your foes, to still the enemy and the avenger. (Psalm 8:2 ESV)
Children are the greatest of sinners. They are selfish, self-centered and self-absorbed. When the disciples argued amongst themselves, debating which of them was the greatest in Jesus’ kingdom, Jesus does not place Himself first. Nor does He choose one of the disciples. Instead He gathers a child to Himself and tells them, and all who are integral to His Body, that a child is the greatest. Then Jesus gives a dire warning to anyone who would teach a child to sin.
At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, "Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.” (Matthew 18:1-6 ESV)
Jesus tells us that children are naturally, because of the image of God in them, drawn toward God. It is the child who is unencumbered by the sin taught and encouraged by the world. Children have a sin nature. But children also have the image of God that is stronger than their sin nature. Sin entices and whispers and lies and cajoles, persuading the child as he or she grows to embrace rebellion against God. Jesus demands those who follow Him to humble themselves like the child, which means to not lift up self higher than they are. Those who are humble are those who understand their place before God and that the world wants to elevate self above God.
Until they are taught otherwise, children speak truthfully. There are always exceptions to this rule, because of the hideous strength of sin to move the thinking of the heart away from God and toward self. But children know when something is unfair, according to what they have been taught. Children recognize hypocrisy. Jesus has harsh words for hypocrites.
Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. (Matthew 7:1-5 ESV).
A hypocrite is an actor, one who pretends to be something they are not. In the garden the Deceiver, taking the guise of a serpent, pretended to have wisdom. He suggested God was unwilling to share this wisdom with Eve. All of the kings of Israel pretended to be religious leaders yet worshipped idols. The religious rulers and leaders who confronted Jesus pretended to intimately know God. Jesus called them hypocrites. Truth silences hypocrisy. Yet, the one speaking the truth must first recognize truth. Specifically, they must recognize the truth of sin and of righteousness. While children may not recognize sin, they know when something they see and hear is not true and are unafraid to speak the truth, until they are trained to be silent and accept the lie as the truth.
How then, do we live as children while embracing spiritual maturity? God is the One who delivers and strengthens. Moses recognized this after being delivered from Pharaoh. “The LORD is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation; this is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him” (Exodus 15:2 ESV)