October 25, 2023
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 gave up childish ways (1 Corinthians 13:11).
I dropped my first F-bomb in third grade. I didn’t know what it meant. I couldn’t even tell you where I learned the word. But I said it in a fit of justifiable anger because Brian Freeman kicked my Batman lunchbox and sent it skittering down the concrete walkway outside of class. Seeing my lunchbox dented and scraped, I let out an “F You!” There were audible gasps, and every head turned in my direction, including my teacher’s.
That four-letter word earned me a trip to the principal’s office.
Standing before the principal, I tried to justify my use of the forbidden word. After all, it was a new lunchbox, and on top of that, it was a Batman lunchbox. But my childish thoughts and reasoning did nothing to persuade “The Bald Eagle,” our intimidating and hairless principal, of my innocence.
So, he pulled out his 18″ paddle, told me to bend over with my hands on his desk, and he spanked me until I cried.
I wish I could say that was the only time I faced off with The Bald Eagle and walked out of his office in tears.
I was a slow learner.
Even when I WAS a child, speaking, thinking, and reasoning like one got me in trouble on a somewhat regular basis.
Was the apostle Paul ever a troublemaker growing up? Regardless, he gave up his childish ways when he became a man.
I’m not that foul-mouthed kid in third grade anymore, but I haven’t ceased from all my childish ways. It’s embarrassing now that I’ve taken the time to examine some of them more closely.
I can be overly competitive, whiny, selfish, and mean-spirited. I can rationalize these immature behaviors, too. And this happens on a somewhat weekly basis when I watch college football, especially if I’m watching The University of Texas play.
None of these behaviors endear me to Kathleen, by the way. None of these behaviors earn the admiration of my son or daughter. None of these behaviors are celebrated by my Heavenly Father, either.
My behavior watching a football game can be embarrassing, but it’s easier to write about than some of my other childish ways. They all serve as a reminder of my need for God’s grace, my need for a Savior, and the never-ending need for the Holy Spirit’s sanctifying work in my life.
Acting like a man means putting away my childish ways of speaking, thinking, and reasoning.
Jesus shows us the way.
Jesus was loving, kind, thoughtful, encouraging, challenging, and direct with his words. When Jesus spoke, people listened. He never wasted his words.
Jesus wasn’t vindictive, petty, or entitled. He wasn’t selfish or mean-spirited.
But children are.
Jesus modeled selfless love.
Jesus was intentional with every person he encountered. He met their needs while neglecting his own. Children can’t look beyond their own desires, and they are great at rationalizing their selfishness.
Men are capable of all this, too, when they don’t put their childish ways behind them.
I think childish behavior in men is embarrassing and hard to watch. Especially if I’m looking in a mirror.
I’m convicted by this verse. I’ve read it countless times over the years, but until recently, I haven’t thought about the importance of it in my own life. It’s easier to just stay the course of immaturity.
Maybe it’s time for you to examine your childish ways as well.
And then send them to the principal’s office.