“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.” (1 Cor. 13:11) Have you ever stopped to consider just how rude that is to say to someone, what you are saying, or better yet, what the listener is hearing when you repeat that verse to them is that their actions and thoughts, at least at the moment or in the current circumstance, are immature, and befitting of their childlike actions. But most people I believe do not perceive children as they really are, they still imagine them free from sin, free from the bondage, the oppression of the sin nature that we are all born into.
Not only are they frivolous in their lives, which we mistakenly called innocent, not only do they chase butterflies and imagine themselves to be who they are not, which we call pretending, but they are cruel, selfish, spiteful, and boastful. They crave attention, they desire to be the best among their peers, or they seek refuge, either alone, or in a group, for protection from those that might oppress them. Now, determine within yourself if Paul is showing us what children are like, or what most so-called adults are like.
As we grow older, as we as they like to call it, mature, we do not grow out of the majority of these attributes that all are born into, we fine tune them, we determine what we are best at in the area of sin, and we begin to manipulate ourselves towards that which we are. The Holy Spirit informs the child of God, teaches us, transforms us (1 Cor. 2:13) into the image of Jesus Christ, which is to mean that all of those childish attributes, the attributes that all of lost mankind holds onto and fine tunes, are being done away with, and we are becoming that which we are not.
Just as a side note, recognize this and accept it as truth, “but when I became a man.” As I have stated perhaps too many times, to understand the totality of a thing, you must understand the inverse of it, so by understanding, we can see from this verse of Scripture that those who are not saved, and perhaps many of those who are, but will not submit to the will of the Holy Spirit to transform them, are not men, and ladies, but still remain children in their desires, actions, words, and deeds.
Men in positions of authority, which term here I will continue to use loosely, although I could simply call them adults, almost always tend to seek more power, and if not, will attempt to use the power they have to the fullest, they are indeed childlike, for they presume that this supposed power has the ability to make, or otherwise coerce, those under them into submission to their will. And to a degree they are correct, for there are not a few who will bend the knee willingly for a plethora of reasons. Job security, fear of pain, not desiring to cause any waves, the list of servility is virtually endless.
The majority of mankind, for there are few that find the gate, (Matt. 7:14) spend the entirety of their lives attempting to find out who they are, what their purpose in life is, or have fallen into the trap of either submission or a human semblance of dominance, in either case, they are still childish, and believe that they serve some viable, important service to mankind. They are childish because they are lost, they are childish because they refuse to see and accept the truth, that the Lord God is Sovereign, that they are but dust, (Psalm 103:14) and that every single moment of their lives has been, save for how they unknowingly benefitted the purposes of the Most High, useless.
Children do what feels good, men devise a plan and stick with it, and the emotions of children are most generally what drive them, whether it be in the area of fear of others for whatever reason, or causing fear and anxiety in others for whatever reason. We are to look at them as children, as immature individuals who do not know the truth, the truth that has set us free, (John 8:32) which means that we must see them with Spiritual eyes, not those eyes of the world that determine the worth of a person by their appearance or within their supposed place in the world, whether it be one of great power, or one of abject poverty, we are to see them as children, chasing the butterflies of this current world that they reside in. And I will guarantee you this, they will not want to come out of that world, for children are stubborn and hard-headed, and most generally believe themselves to be right and correct in whatever avenue they have chosen to travel.
There is a point where patience must end with children, no matter their age, where personal anger for the sake of teaching is not involved, but where they must be taught that what they are doing, the life they are living, is not honorable or glorifying to God. This is called reproof, it is correcting for the purpose of their welfare, we call it witnessing for Christ. As children, they will not understand, for we are speaking Spiritual truths to those who have no ability to discern them, and so we must be patient with them, but only to a point, then correction must be given.
That conviction comes in the form of the knowledge imparted to them of where they will spend eternity if they do not repent. These children, no matter their age, do not recognize that they are in error, we once were like they are now, it is our responsibility, privilege, honor, and duty to inform them of these truths. “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” (Prov. 22:6) No matter how old they are when you begin the training, six or sixty, nine or ninety.