The longer I live the less perturbed I am by the actions and even attitudes of children. They’re just children. They are not adults with mature thinking and values stuffed into a small frame. They’re just kids, kids with limited life experiences and a worldview that starts within them and reaches about arm’s length. They are just children, and taken as a total package, they’re great little ole creatures. Just think about it. While we want to encourage them to grow up, mature, make good decisions and act right, there’s a lot of good to be said about children, especially when you contrast them with adults. For instance, children will smile and laugh many more times a day than adults do. One study says that the average child will smile big and laugh up to 400 times a day while the average adult gets in that mode about a dozen times a day.
Adults will carry a grudge and nurse a hurt for decades while children tend to get over their miffs within minutes, at the most hours, and always within days. And it’s wonderful to see children care about people and love them regardless of their social standing or their Grade Point Average at school or their celebrated giftedness or their color of skin or their age, young or old, while adults mature and thoughtful will almost instantaneously calibrate and calculate who people are and what they are by some flimsy measurement. It may not be accurate and at other times may be marked by fake standards. Kids are not perfect, especially when those kids are brothers and sisters.
The other day my wife and I were having a talk with one of our grandchildren. Now as many of you would clearly understand, our children are wonderful and our grandchildren are wonderful-er. At times, they are the wonderful-est. Our youngest daughter has our three youngest grandkids and each of them is everything that a grandchild is supposed to be – bright, beautiful, bubbling, and nearby perfect, especially when they are not all three together. There are two boys and one girl in the middle. And while they don’t fight all the time and rarely fuss and fight with anyone other than themselves, their favorite time to get into an argument that becomes a fuss and a fight is at the end of the school day when they are picked up to go home. They are tired physically, emotionally, mentally, and are not aware of how drained they are from the day’s activities, so when they get in the car, the older and the younger brother both begin to see if they can touch the right emotional button to set their sister off. They are both skilled at this exercise. She is skilled in combat, also, and begins to act and react both to defend herself and to attack the enemy.
Now the conversation we were having with our granddaughter was about these outbreaks of World War III and grandmother asks the granddaughter, “Why do y’all fight?” to which calmly and thoughtfully the granddaughter said, “It’s what we do for a living.” We both laughed but in time realized there is some truth in that. They’d been separated all day, were tired, come back together and as children have to reestablish the boundaries of life and landscape. Sometimes it gets out of hand and as many of you would understand, it wears and tears the emotions of a mom or a dad, but kids will be kids.
It’s not unusual to see this same kind of activity in church, especially where the maturity level of the believers got stuck somewhere between Kindergarten and 3rd grade. They are rather short-sighted, easily disturbed, and totally committed to having their own way. The Apostle Paul, seemed to have a good understanding of the folks in the church at Corinth, that they were overpopulated with childishness. As you read the book of 1 and 2 Corinthians and as you come to understand Paul’s ongoing relationship with the church, you begin to see flashes of reality about these leaders who had been childish in their approach to life and how Paul dealt with them. For instance, do understand that these are the children of God but not yet perfect children. Sometimes we who know the Lord see someone come to know Him as Savior and are born into the family of God and two days later, we’re imposing our lifelong understanding of Christian faith, our more mature standards of walking with Christ, on other people.
While it has taken me a long time to get where I am in my walk with Christ, there are many days that I feel like I am still on Mile 1 and I often think that Jesus may think that I’m barely out of the starting blocks. But what I do know is that I do know Him and my life is different because of Him. I am grateful when sometimes someone else recognizes that it appears as though I have been with Jesus. Being a child of God does not mean that you are yet a perfect child of God.
The second thing that you can note about Paul dealing with these children in Corinth is that you can expect children to be children. Most of us have to learn and understand that you can expect lost people to act like lost people. You can also mark it down that children will act like children. They don’t always mean to be mean, but sometimes when they disagree and fuss and fight, it’s just what they do for a living. Then it is important for those of us who feel some sense of maturity that we not evaluate them and all they do by us and where we are. It’s an interesting thing about spiritual development that some people never realize, and that is the sad ugliness of being childish in your actions can become the sad ugliness of arrogance as you become a mature know-it-all. Neither is where the Lord wants us ultimately to be.
A final thought that seems to be spread throughout Paul’s dealings with the Corinthian children is his constant caring endeavor to encourage them toward maturity in Christ Jesus. Kids may be kids, but if we encourage one another, help one another, lift one another, instruct one another and above all, love one another, we all can grow and mature and bless one another.
The author can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.