Inspired by GU’s Christian Service course, Christian Maturity.
by Kristy Teague
Do you remember when you were a child and you wanted to have the best toy or the newest game? Or, you set a goal of trying all the flavors of sweet or sour candy, just to say you did? Adults had no time for that. And I remember thinking, “Why don’t they like it?” At some point, they outgrew childhood. They “put away childish things.”
Paul wrote in his letter to the Corinthians, “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me” (1 Corinthians 13:11 NIV)
From being a child to becoming an adult goes against what we want when we are young. We want to be forever young and to experience life at its fullest. To have to wait for any “need” or “want” to be met is intolerable. Patience is not fully understood. Not getting that new toy, game, or candy is unimaginable! Disappointing. Even embarrassing, in comparison to other kids who get what they want.
Yet for all the indulgence and impatience that children are often accused of, what DO they do right? Their inexperience on this earth causes them to be overly trusting, overly innocent, overly humble. They are by no means perfect, but they are teachable and they follow. Whether an adult guides them to good or to bad, they trust and obey. It is for this reason that Jesus commended little children. Not for their outward actions, but for the condition of their heart.
In Matthew 18:2, Jesus called a little child over and said to the disciples, “Unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”
Can an adult become a child again? Unfortunately, no. But an adult can have a change of heart. Despite his or her experiences on this earth, an adult can become trusting, innocent, and humble.
The psalmist wrote: Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me. (Psalm 51:10 NIV)
King Solomon advised: Above all else, guard your heart,
for everything you do flows from it. (Proverbs 4:23 NIV)
And Paul encouraged the church members in Philippi by writing:
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:7 NIV)
Christian [adults] are often accused of being “other-worldly,” thinking more in terms of faith and heaven, rather than focusing on the “here and now.” The other extreme is to be overly “worldly,” focused on the temporal, often self-centered, or childish. The biblical ideal is to reach a balance—to have confidence in our faith and the reality of heaven, to fulfill our present-day purpose here on earth, and to be aware of our future reward in heaven.
Spiritual growth comes only after believing in God as Heavenly Father. To recognize God as our spiritual Father would mean we are spiritual children. Thus, all believers become members of a spiritual family. We are brothers and sisters in Christ. Does that mean we are literally “family”? No! But, we do have a not-of-this-world opportunity (dare I say, responsibility) to treat one another with kindness, compassion, and brotherly love out of a sincere heart.
If we all were to treat one another with civility and spiritual maturity and “put away childish things” of this world, imagine what could be accomplished for good! The book of 1 John expresses this theme. If we say we believe in God and know God, but we do not love God or others, then we do not know God, for God is love.
This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son [Jesus] as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. (1 John 4:9–11 NIV)
Kristy Teague is an editor at Global University in the University Materials Department (UMD). Tim and Kristy Teague are AGWM appointed missionaries at Global University. For more information about Global, visit www.globaluniversity.edu. For more information about the School for Evangelism and Discipleship courses visit www.globalreach.org