Put Away Childish Things

1 Corinthians 13:11: "When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child:
but when I became a man, I put away childish things
."

We begin life as helpless, little babies.
The little baby is the most helpless of all creatures, and the emotional attitude of dependence
clings to some adults throughout their lives.

As emotional maturity is gradually achieved, we are no longer so completely self-centered.
We become interested in the things and people around us.
Yet we may find in almost any walk of life today, men and women who are physically and intellectually
well-developed, but who remain emotionally, immature.
They present a problem to themselves, and to everyone else in their immediate environment.

What does Christianity have to offer these who have this widespread problem of emotional immaturity?
Here, as in so many other instances, we see the amazing relevance of the Word of God.
For example, the apostle Paul repeatedly deals with this problem in his epistles.

For instance, when he was writing to the Corinthians, he tells them in his first epistle
that they are manifesting the spirit of underdeveloped, children – not that of mature Christians.
As evidence of this, he reminds them of their quarrels and dissensions, and their cliques and parties,
the jealousies and resentments they have manifested, their strivings for self-glory,
and their moral laxity.

Paul writes: "But I, brethren, could not address you as spiritual men… but as babes in Christ.
I fed you with milk, not solid food: for you were not ready for it; and even yet you are not ready
."

The climax of Paul's argument is reached in the 13th chapter of 1 Corinthians where he sets forth
the of sovereign remedy for spiritual and emotional immaturity.

That remedy is love – Christian love.
He sums it all up in his own experience: "When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child,
I reasoned like a child; but when I became a man, I gave up childish ways
." (RAV)

When we speak and think and reason like children, we manifest our incapacity to face life.
How does this emotional immaturity revealed itself in our society?

First, it is responsible for much of the instability of family life in America.

One immature person in a marriage can do great damage to the peace and harmony of home life,
but when both parties are immature, the result may be disastrous.

In such case each one is determined to have his or her own way regardless of the consequences,
and without considering the sufferings that may be imposed on others.
Each one is watching for every possible hurt or offense at the hands of the other so that they may
indulged in self-pity.
Each seeks to punish the other by employing foul moods, sulking, or a complete refusal
to engage in conversation.

Immature people can never admit that they have been in the wrong.
Their insecure ego must be protected without fail.
When pride and immaturity say, "Don't admit that you were at fault, or even equally to blame,"
love says, "Speak the healing word and all shall be well."

"It is the little rift within the lute
That by and by it will make the music, mute
And ever widening, slowly silence all."
– Tennyson

But love can heal that rift.
And Paul tells why it can: "Love is patient and kind; love is not arrogant or rude.
Love does not insist on its own way: it is not irritable or resentful
."

Let Christ into your heart, and your home will become in truth "a little kingdom ruled by love."

Second, a further manifestation of immaturity in modern-day persons is the widespread
lack of self-discipline
.

Someone might tell you that you should "Obey your impulses."
But that will encourage chaos in your life.
It will drive you to be at the mercy of your inner drives and desires.

To let desire rule us is to be less than mature men and women.
Just as soon as we lose the power of controlling and directing our lives we begin to deteriorate.
The child acts according to impulse.
The mature adult acts according to reason and moral considerations.

It is not good enough to speak and think and reason like a child for when we reach manhood
and womanhood, we must give up childish ways.

Periodically, we need to pull ourselves together so that we may become disciplined persons.
Are you building a self-reliant, courageous character that can confidently meet the crises of life?
That is the test of your maturity.

The Christ-mastered person, such as the apostle Paul, is the only truly, self-mastered man.
Studying the life of the apostle Paul, we cannot but feel a sense of his consciousness
of an inner power to a unified life.
It challenges us and inspires us to hear him say: "I'm not going to let anything master me."

Third, also in interpersonal relations the spiritually mature person is
a purveyor of goodwill and understanding
.

This is true with it if it is a school or college, a church or a fraternal society, a bank or a store,
a factory or an office.
Today people are living under increasing pressure and proceed at a great high-speed.
Everyone finds himself at times gripped by tensions.
Nerves are frayed.
Tempers are strained.
Patience is sometimes exhausted.

It is so easy under these circumstances to revert to early infantile emotional reactions
– to behave like naughty children.
How childish we become at times – taking an unfair advantage of other persons,
repeating unkind gossip we have heard, believing the worst about people,
presenting the advancement that comes to others and glorying in any that comes to ourselves,
seeking always to dominate other people rather than to serve them,
judging others by more rigid standards then we applied to ourselves,
exposing the faults of others instead of trying to correct our own.

Love is the remedy for these immature reactions.

When love fills our lives, we are no longer preoccupied with our own petty concerns.
Christ is the answer to childish immaturity.

His Holy Spirit within creates mature Christian personalities who can say with the apostle Paul,
"When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child:
but when I became a man, I gave up childish ways
."

Sermon adapted from several sources by Dr. Harold L. White