A Bowl Full of Frosting
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
When I was four or five years old, my family attended an elderly woman’s birthday party from our church. There was a lot of cake being served and when the host discovered that I loved frosting, she secretly gave me an entire bowl full of the leftover frosting, scraped from around the edge of the cake. She apparently found some joy in my joy at receiving (and eating) an entire bowl of frosting. It’s an amusing memory, but it’s only cute because I was a chubby little kid. It would be grotesque if I attended a birthday party now, at age 48, and ate an entire bowl of leftover frosting. As an adult, childish behaviors simply aren’t cute anymore.
The problem with our bad habits, however, is that we often don’t naturally grow out of them. In fact, addiction often stunts our growth so that we cannot grow up. In our addictions, we act as children, impulsively following our appetite. There’s nothing cute about a grown adult acting like a spoiled child, continually following his self-destructive nature. Once a behavior pattern is learned though, it’s tremendously difficult to simply unlearn it.
In today’s passage, Paul presented an ideal that as followers of Christ, we must emulate. In it, he said that when he was a child, he thought and behaved like a child. As an adult however, he gave up childish ways. This often must be a conscious process and if we don’t purposefully do it, many of those childish behaviors don’t simply go away on their own. It may be easy to not eat bowls full of frosting now, but we’ve all got other immature habits that aren’t extinguished so easily.
The Christian life is meant to be one of continual spiritual growth. Daily, we must abandon the old childish life for the new mature life. This isn’t a natural process though. In fact, it’s most natural to simply remain in a state of arrested development. If, however, we want the new life, then we must daily work at identifying those childish thoughts and behaviors. We must take them to God, asking what he wants us to do with them. Then, we must do whatever he asks. Some things aren’t cute anymore. If we want to leave behind the misery of the old life, we need to grow up, abandoning childish things.