William Hendrikson illustrates how a child thinks:
A merchant had a pile of gold coins outside his windowsill with a sign, “Take One.”
All day long people passed by thinking, “this guy can’t fool me.” Evening fell and the owner was about to remove the pile. But just before he did, a child came by, read the sign and calmly and without the least hesitancy, took one.”
Jesus wants us to come to Him with child-like qualities. He says, “I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” When we receive the kingdom of God like a little child, we receive it with complete genuine, trustful humility. Of course Jesus is not referring to the innocence of children, as he he has made strong remarks about the darkness and sinfulness of the human heart. Nowhere in the Bible are children referred to as “innocent” people who only develop sin and evil later in life. Instead, coming to Jesus with child-like qualities means coming to Him with the weakness, vulnerability and dependence of a little child.
Moreover, children are not good at hiding their flaws and feelings, they trust and are not suspicious. So to receive the kingdom “as a little child” we are to be completely honest about our flaws and feelings, approaching God through Christ with qualities such as dependency, trust, and inquisitiveness. Like a child, we must come to Him with a heart that believes everything, seeking his favor as a gift.