“When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known. And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” 1Corinthians 13: 11-13
Isn’t it interesting that the scripture tells us that we should become like little children to see the kingdom of heaven, but when it comes to loving people, it tells us that we need to put childish ways away?
If you have raised children or have been around young people, you know how selfish they can be; generally, they are driven by what they want and when they want it!! It is the responsibility of their parents to teach them respect, love, sharing with others, and learning to wait for what they want so badly. Most children don’t come with that propensity, so they can easily throw a fit if things don’t go their way!!!
The above scripture tells us that we start out as children speaking childishly, with little understanding, and thinking immaturely. In our continual growth and maturity in the Lord, these three need to change.
Our speech needs to be more seasoned with salt. We can’t just speak things that cause hurt and destruction. This is easily seen in children fighting with their siblings. It is not pretty! They can say mean and hurtful things to each other. While many times they’ll get over their hurt, those words and attitudes can stay with someone into adulthood. I know it did for me.
We are also called to a mature understanding. Children generally see the world through their own eyes which makes them think the world revolves around them!! We as adults can do the same thing. It takes work to have a mature understanding of a situation especially if it involves conflict of some sort. This means I have to put my own feelings and opinions aside to have the chance to see the situation from the other person’s point of view. Seeing something from another’s point of view does not mean you agree, or their position is correct. It just allows you to see the situation from more than just your own perspective. If we put this extra effort and time into it, we could alleviate unnecessary offense and tension. Many issues that seem huge at the moment can become smaller or eliminated if we tried to put ourselves in other people’s shoes.
Finally, we need to think right!! The scripture in Romans 12:1-2 tells us not to conform to the patterns of this world but be transformed by renewing of our minds. Sometimes the patterns of the world are the old ways of thinking that keep us immature and don’t allow us to grow up and mature. We don’t want arrested development in our walk with the Lord. We must want to grow up and change our thinking or we will stay immature regardless of all the reasons it may be difficult to change.
Can you think of examples of where 1 Corinthians 13:11-13 becomes so critical? I think about so many marriages struggling because people say hurtful things to each other. They get set in their ways, and then they start thinking all the negative thoughts about each other. That’s a recipe for disaster!! A healthy marriage will grow when both people can speak the right words to each other, put themselves in each others’ shoes, and finally, remember the other person was a gift from God and should be treated as such.
The above scripture reminds us that we don’t see or know everything clearly on this side of heaven. There are going to be times we don’t know what God is doing, but that doesn’t give us the freedom to speak, or think childishly. In order to develop maturity it requires faith to speak right, understand well, and think pure thoughts. If we do those things we are coming out of childish behaviors and becoming the man or the woman of God that He intended for us to be. Then we love better and our love for others and for the Lord matures. We speak properly about others, we have better empathy and understanding, and we think the right thoughts because we trust Him.
I want to mature in these areas, don’t you? Lord, please help us to speak right. Give us understanding for other people, so we can see their point of view, and help us think right thoughts about ourselves, about you and about others. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.