“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 put aside childish things.” I Corinthians 13:11.
The Apostle Paul’s letter to the church in Corinth is famous for several reasons. In it, Paul holds back no punches when confronting the Corinthians about their tolerance of sin within the church, he implores them to rise above the spiritual deprivation and corruption of the city, and in chapter 13, he describes the importance of love to the believer. But in this one verse of the very famous chapter 13, Paul encourages the Corinthians to do one more thing: to grow up.
Paul is referring to the spiritual maturity of many of the Corinthians within the church. He uses the analogy of a child–something that everyone alive can understand and relate to. We all hearken back to the times in our life when our world was simple, we had no real commitments or responsibilities, our days revolved around watching cartoons and playing outside. When we were young, the world was exciting, we had no worries, we seldom faced any real hardship. But, we cannot stay children forever, at some point we grow up and realize that the world can be scary; life can be hard. However, we are not completely caught of guard by this because all along the way we have been growing and maturing and being prepared for adult life. Parents, grandparents, and other trusted adults have been training us and equipping us with what we need to survive in life. Why then do we allow our spiritual lives to remain in such a childlike immaturity?
Yes, in both Testaments the Bible exonerates children and praises the faith that a child can possess. We are encouraged to have this same child-like faith, but in the sense that we believe as earnestly and as wholeheartedly as a child would believe. For adults, our skepticism and cynicism so often prohibits us from a fulfilling relationship with God; a child however, will believe as genuinely as humanly possible. What Paul wants is for us to take our child-like faith and exercise it, train it, deepen it, help it to mature–to give substance to it. It is this kind of faith that allows us to walk closely and fully with God. This is a faith that sustains us through life’s ups and downs. Our faith is to mature as we mature, not to be left back in elementary school.
So many today settle for a “happy meal” version of faith and spiritual walk when they should be putting aside childish things. They desire no more depth to their faith than a summertime Vacation Bible School. They allow their spiritual walk to be as mature as a brooding teenager making mix-tapes for God. They allow their faith to be an inch deep and a mile wide, lacking substance . This is not to say that their faith isn’t genuine, but it is to say that their faith could be strengthened and matured. At some point, we all must graduate from Bible School and begin studying scripture in depth; to begin deepening our faith so that we can endure life and to spread God’s message to the world. We shouldn’t settle for the immature faith that is emotionally-driven and spiritually lacking. Our relationship with Christ can’t be so capricious that we seek after a church with the best music selection over its teaching of the Bible. We must exercise our faith just as intensely as we would our bodies, continually adding weight and intensity to our work-outs so as not to stagnate and to continually keep growing.
There is no peak to one’s faith, our spiritual walk can always be better and strengthened. We should never become content and complacent. We should always strive to put away the childish things and to continue growing up.