“When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:11-13
There is something inside a child when they are born that causes them to think that the whole world belongs to them. Can I get an amen? We have all seen this in raising children; even our own perfect little angels. There is not a one that at some time has not grabbed a toy out of a fellow toddler’s hand and shouted “Mine!”
It doesn’t change much as they grow into middle school years. I think that is where the hardest part of growing up takes place. We want to put others down to feed our own feelings of inadequacy. “Did you see what the prom queen was wearing? Doesn’t she know how fat it makes her look?” “Ha ha, what’s his name failed his Algebra test. What an idiot.” “She was my friend first!” And it goes on and on. Children. Feelings of not fitting in. Destroying the reputation and validity of others to make ourselves look good.
As young adults finishing high school and going out into the world, we often take these childish ways with us. Oh, there are a number of causes: not getting the love and support from our parents as we were growing up, bad experiences in school that were never dealt with appropriately, no one ever told us it was wrong. So many reasons.
Paul was one of those people. Paul was trained to look for the Messiah. He was told those who believed that Jesus was the promised One should be ostracized. He traveled in his zeal and killed, destroyed, and watched as those who believed in Jesus were put in prison. He took part in all things against the Christ.
“When I was a child (following in his parent’s teachings and personal experience), I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child.” Paul, at that time, was living as a child who didn’t know any better. He let others do his thinking for him. When Jesus stopped him on the way to persecute more Christians, that is when he started thinking for himself. He let Christ and those He had chosen to teach him how to live as God intended. He accepted the changes. “When I became a man (or woman) I gave up childish ways.”
I have a dear friend who had a horrible childhood. They saw all the evils of the world in their home: alcoholism, infidelity, dishonesty. As a child they were taught that they could never do anything right. They were made to feel that all the bad that happened was their fault. This child grew up into a bitter, hateful, person. They are constantly gossiping about others and putting them down. They destroyed their marriage and are trying to destroy their children’s lives through bitter words and ways. My friend is so self-centered that they cannot see the horror their childish way is causing.
I, like Paul in another verse, have not arrived. I still have childish thoughts resulting from childhood pain, but, also like Paul, the scales have been removed from my eyes. I think like a woman of God as much as possible in my little piece of earth. I pray that all who are living as children in Christ have the experience of the blinding light to give them new sight. I pray for my friend, especially, as they live out their day that the Holy Spirit of God will reveal their childish ways and the pain it is causing.
“So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” Teach us, Lord Jesus, how to love unconditionally so that we can put away our childish gossip, hatred, jealousy, and fear. Help us to want the best for those we love and not expect the worst. Help us to love when we don’t understand. Help us to accept others as they are, to live Christlike lives so that they will see the better way. So that they can see the joy that comes from fully looking to You for our answers and not to our childhood. Open our eyes, Father, to lives that reflect You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen