“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 Cor. 13:11). - 1 Corinthians 13:8–13
One of the truths we learn early on in our Christian walk is that knowledge does not necessarily equal maturity. All of us have known people who are well-informed theologically but infants as far as spiritual maturity is concerned. Many know the content of the Bible quite well but cannot show any evidence of the Holy Spirit in their lives.
This reality, coupled with a reaction against a cold, dead orthodoxy has led many to extol the virtues of having a childlike faith. After all, does not Jesus say that we have to become as children if we are to enter the kingdom of God (Matt. 18:3)?
Unfortunately, many in our day misunderstand what Jesus meant when He told us to have a childlike faith. To be childlike is often equated with being unconcerned about the deep matters of the Word of God. To inquire into the depths of Christian doctrine is often regarded as an evidence that one does not have a childlike faith.
However, we know that this cannot be the case. Paul exhorts us to become mature in our knowledge (1 Cor. 14:20). That is to say, we are to grow in knowledge of the deep things of God just like we grow in the knowledge of many things as we become adults.
Today’s passage speaks to this issue quite clearly. In the second half of 1 Corinthians 13, Paul looks forward to the day when we shall know the Lord more fully. In verse 11, he reminds us of our need to reason like men and not like children. He looks forward to the day when he will behold the Lord face to face. In glory, we will come to know God as fully as we possibly can. However, growing in this knowledge begins as soon as we repent of our sins and trust Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.
Acquiring a deep knowledge of Scripture and Christian doctrine is no guarantee that we will become spiritually mature. But if we never study these things we will most certainly never become mature. When we approach the great matters of God with a humble spirit, He uses our study to increase our faith.
Childlike faith means that we trust God implicitly just like young children trust their parents. To say that childlike faith means that we are unconcerned with doctrine is really to be childish. Therefore we must study with prayer and humility so that we may grow up.
When Jesus calls us to have faith like a child, He is implicitly calling us to trust God at His Word. One of the ways we do this is by determining to submit to the teachings of Holy Scripture. Take some time today to plan to study Scripture more carefully. Join a Bible study, and make sure to find a good teacher or a good study plan to follow.
Passages for Further Study
- Deut. 11:18–21
- 1 Cor. 14:20
- Eph. 4:11–14
- Heb. 5:11–14