As I write this out, I am aware that there are those who may read this who do not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. I implore you to start by reading my article, Restoration and make a decision. If you don’t think you need to hurry, or you have plenty of time, please consider this article, I’m going to fix it, someday.
1 Corinthians 13:11
When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. But when I became an adult, I set aside childish ways.
Let’s try to understand what this means to us and to our walk as a Christian man.
This scripture, by itself is powerful, but can create confusion in men who may have never seen or heard what it is to put away childish things. We automatically think that it means to stop playing with toys, or that we can’t expect things to be done for us, but, I believe it is something different.
Consider how a child acts and thinks. They come out unable to do anything for themselves, so, as a parent, we do things for them. If they want fed, they let us know, quickly. There is no patience, only frustration on their part. They do not understand why you don’t know what is wrong, or what they need, they just know they need.
As they get older, they begin to expect that things will get done for them, that things will just show up if they ask. They are selfish and think selfishly. Not so much because they want to be that way, but because that is all they have ever known, so, we as parents begin to show them and teach them things like patience, selflessness, manners, etc.
The first part of this scripture is talking directly to this, to how a child acts and reacts, how they think and how they reason, but the second part is an action that needs to take place in order for us to enter into manhood. We begin to shed selfishness for selflessness, we become more patient, we start to do things for others and to stop expecting that things will just be done for us. We take on responsibility and begin to lead like we were meant to.
So, on the surface, this scripture is pretty clear what we should be doing to grow into a man of God, but, if you put it into context, you get so much more. Let’s go and look at the whole chapter.
1 Corinthians 13 (NET Bible)
13 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but I do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith so that I can remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away everything I own, and if I give over my body in order to boast, but do not have love, I receive no benefit.
4 Love is patient, love is kind, it is not envious. Love does not brag, it is not puffed up. 5 It is not rude, it is not self-serving, it is not easily angered or resentful. 6 It is not glad about injustice, but rejoices in the truth. 7 It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
8 Love never ends. But if there are prophecies, they will be set aside; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be set aside. 9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part, 10 but when what is perfect comes, the partial will be set aside. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. But when I became an adult, I set aside childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror indirectly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know in part, but then I will know fully, just as I have been fully known. 13 And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.
By looking at the whole chapter, we see that the writer is talking about love. Not just the idea that we should love each other, but, what love is, exactly. This helps us put our text into its proper context, that we are talking about the love we should have for one another. It also allows us to understand what the author meant in this passage, instead of applying it in ways it should not be applied, or to things it had no reason to be applied to.
The chapter starts out listing things we can do, with or without love as the catalyst. It shares that even if we are the best at it, without love, we are nothing, we are bankrupt. It allows us to see that there are many reasons to do something, to say something and to give something, but there is only one reason that counts in the end.
Then the chapter changes and explains what love really is, what it means to truly love. It starts at listing what love is and then makes sure we understand what love is not, then ends with what love does. It is imperative that we understand this section, prior to trying to impart it into our lives, as this enables us to test our motives, or desires, against what scripture says.
It is important to understand that we are to test all things. To test them means to study them and seek truth, not just what we want to hear.
1 Thessalonians 5:21
21 But examine all things; hold fast to what is good.
Verses 8 through 12 allows us to get a glimpse of application. To begin to align our lives with scripture in regard to love, including how to act. To act with love is to reject passivity and to be responsible. To accept that we have responsibilities and to act accordingly, with courage. We are not to just stand on the sidelines of life and allow others to do everything. No, we should confront, in love, the very things that could bring destruction upon another, because, if we have love, true love as the scriptures state, we will stand and pour ourselves out to help others, even unto our own death.
2 Timothy 2:22-26 gives us another perspective on this matter, helping us to understand the passage and our responsibilities to remain active.
2 Timothy 2:22-26
22 So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. 23 Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. 24 And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, 25 correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, 26 and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.
Being passive in helping others see the truth leads to sending them to hell, plain and simple. If we claim to be followers of Christ, we cannot just watch others die and end up in hell without a fight, we must act!
1 Corinthians 13:13 brings everything back into a Godly perspective.
13 And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.
We know that we are to hope for eternity, having faith in the knowledge of our salvation, that we are to have hope in Christ, to have faith in what He did on the cross, however, these two are only real in our lives if we have true love in our hearts. The kind of love that was spoken of in 1 Corinthians 13, the kind of love that motivates us to get up and get out, to share the truth with others, no matter the cost to ourselves.
This is what it means to put off the childish ways and to become a man.