“Suffer Little Children to Come Unto Me”

One day, a group of parents brought their young children to see the Savior, hoping that He would bless them. His disciples rebuked them, presumably thinking that Jesus had more important things to do than talk to their children. But Jesus corrected them:

Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.

Luke 18:16; see also Matthew 19:14, Mark 10:14

During the first day of His post-mortal ministry on the American continent, Jesus asked the multitude to bring their children to the front. When the children were all gathered around Him, He commanded the multitude to kneel. Then, He knelt as well and prayed words so sublime that they could neither write them nor even repeat them. After the prayer:

He wept, and the multitude bare record of it, and he took their little children, one by one, and blessed them, and prayed unto the Father for them.

And when he had done this he wept again;

And he spake unto the multitude, and said unto them: Behold your little ones.

3 Nephi 17:21-23

Here are some lessons I have learned from these two stories:

  1. Children are naturally drawn to good things. As adults, we need to encourage this. Let them explore the gospel whole-heartedly. Let them pray using their own words. We sometimes need to get out of their way and “suffer” them to grow close to Him in their own way and by their own efforts.
  2. As disciples of Jesus Christ, we should follow His example and prioritize time with children over activities that may seem more important.
  3. When we spend time with children, we need to give them more than half-hearted attention. Jesus said, “Behold your little ones.” Sister Michaelene P. Grassli explained, “When the Lord instructed the Nephites to behold their little ones, I believe he told them to give attention to their children, to contemplate them, to look beyond the present and see their eternal possibilities” (“Behold Your Little Ones,” General Conference, October 1992).

Today, I will prioritize time with the children in my life and will give them my full attention when I am with them. I will strive to encourage them in their efforts to grow closer to God.

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