Putting away childish things
1 Corinthians 13:11
Can we forget the picture of the young man stuffing an oil rag into the gas tank of a police cruiser in Vancouver?
What possessed such a young man with such a great future in the offing on Canada’s water-polo team to do such a thing? What were the issues in this person’s heart leading up to the event? Was his behavior accidental, or was it the sum total of every choice that he had made up to that point?
Explaining 1 Corinthians 13:11, R. T. Kendall gives three evidences of childish behavior in adults (the comments are mine): first, in immature speech (talking and acting like a child), second, wanting to be loved, without being aware of the need to be loving, and third, in shallowness (gullible; easily influenced; reluctant to move from their own past behavior, or that of others; easily distracted, lack of discernment)(excerpted from: Just Love, Christian Focus Publications, 1997).
James, in the first chapter of his letter to the saints, gives three pieces of advice for adult weaknesses. He writes in the nineteenth verse,
“Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.”
Here is the logic: to be “quick to hear” requires that we be slow to react; to be “slow to speak” results in improved hearing and increased discernment, and to be “slow to anger” reveals that the love of God is present and that the person is maturing. One might add: ‘intensity’ (pushing harder than God or striving), or ‘passivity’ (holding back from God) produce arrogance, and arrogance results in sinful behaviors of various kinds [do not listen to those who tell you that Christians cannot sin – I have done a full study of this topic in my latest book – Simply Grace]
All three of James’ pieces of advice define what the attitude of Jesus is, and the attitude also that Paul says we should have (“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ” – Philippians 2:5)!
First, He heard the father, and did only what the father told him to do,
“I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father – John 14:12; Jesus replied, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching – My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him” John 14:23.
His attitude was humble in his ability to learn, and then he let what he learnt translate to what he did. James confirms: “you see that a person is justified by what he does, and not by faith alone” (2:24). James is not saying that “works” justifies us, but that a genuine salvation by faith must produce godly works in us (see also: Ephesians 2:4-10).
Second, he said only what the father told him to say
“For I did not speak of my own accord, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it. So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say” John 12:49-50)
His attitude was dependable in what he said.
Third, he did not judge, and let God and the word do the judging,
“As for the person who hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge him – For I did not come to judge the world, but to save it. There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; that very word which I spoke will condemn him at the last day” – John 12:48-49
Anger grows from judgment. Anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. Prove first that you can get beyond something. God might then use you to do something about it. Again, speaking to Christians, James confirms:
“Brothers, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against his brother or judges him speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law (Loys: referring to the perfect law of God’s love as in James 1:25), you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it” James 4:11
Integral to Jesus’ attitude is that he put God first in his life. At the heart of this attitude is a crucial understanding also: Jesus knew the truth of the words in 2 Chronicles 16:9,
“For the eyes of the lord run to and for throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him!”
[Notes: To give strong support means: hΩaœzaq - to give strength, repair, encourage; to grasp, seize, hold; to make repairs; to establish oneself firmly; to encourage, to rally strength; from the base meaning of physical hardness come by extension: physical and internal strength of character. To be blameless means: sûaœleœm – safe, complete, whole]
His attitude was profitable in what it produced through God’s increased favor and support
This scripture does not suggest that those whose hearts are not blameless will get no support at all, since God does not remove salvation from those that are his. Rather, it is that God increases that support exponentially on those who are not only saved, but press into him in obedience and faithfulness! Hudson Taylor translated Jesus’ words “have faith in God” as, “Hold onto a faithful God” (Mark 11:22)
William law affirms that God looks for maturity from us when he writes in A Serious call to a Devout and Holy Life – The Spirit of Love,
“Devotion is neither private nor public prayer… devotion signifies a life given or devoted to God. He therefore is the devout man who lives no longer to his own will, or the way of the spirit of the world, but to the sole will of God” (Paulist Press, 1978, p. 1).
After he washed their feet Jesus said to the disciples, “I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you” (John 13:15). His implication is that they would have the choice to or not to! He is reminding them of what is important. If they are not reconciled it will hinder them, even a delay in reconciliation is actually unacceptable! It is just not worth it! R. T. Kendall once said that judging is elbowing in on God’s territory. Jesus goes even further when he says that we should treat our enemies as our friends (Matthew 5:43-44). Jesus’ attitude was one of accepting forgiveness; giving; preferring others; tenderness, and service as a normal part of a devout Christian life!
To summarize, therefore, all Christians young or old should devote themselves to God in what they do, in what they say, and in how they see their situations (judge)! As they devote themselves to God, he will strengthen them; increase them; increase blessing on them; order support for them from every direction; prosper them, and delight them!
They should heed Isaiah’s words spoken to God’s house when he said,
“They are turned back and utterly put to shame who trust in carved idols, who say to metal images, ‘You are my Gods” (43:17).
Again, Isaiah is not stating that they would lose their position as God’s people, but that if they do not turn, that they would lose their inheritances. They would lose what they had built. In this way, similarly to the man in 1 Corinthians 3:15, they would be saved as by fire! The fire would have burnt all that they had built!
It should not escape us also that the ‘carved idols’ and ‘metal images’ refers to all things that we have chosen to be devoted to in a way that it precedes God in our lives, such as our computers; phones; games, and TV’s, et cetera! God’s eyes go to and fro throughout the whole earth to give strong support to those whose hearts are blameless – this means that God sees everything. We should thank him for his grace daily that covers our mistakes; that forgives; that guides us to maturity. We should not frustrate the spirit that he has made to dwell in us, and over which he yearns jealously (James 4:5)!
To the young I would say this: the choices you will make every day will in the end determine the courses you will take. Is there an issue in your past that warrants your attention above this one fact? Turn to God now, while there is time. Give yourself to him whose love is unequalled.
And yet I know this: Only the Spirit of God can enable you to respond. My words are nothing. Only God can help you. I pray that he does!
© Victory Fields
(The beliefs, conclusions, or opinions expressed within this article are entirely those of the author of this article. It is not our intention to suggest either that the authors/writers quoted, in any way agree with what we have written, or that we are expressing their full view on any of the subjects covered)